India must follow Kshatriya Dharma to defeat adharmic Pakistan – David Frawley

Devi Bhavani & Shivaji Mahara

Vamadeva Shastri (David Frawley)Today India has to stand firm as a military, economic and spiritual force in the world. This is certainly its way of progress for the future in all fields and on all fronts. – Dr David Frawley

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was practising Lord Krishna’s ahimsa when his armies fought against the tyrannical rule of Aurangzeb in the seventeenth century. The Hindu resistance to foreign rule that continued for over a thousand years, from the first Arab invasion in the eighth century to the British rule in the twentieth century, was rooted in the true meaning of Vedic ahimsa—which is actively working to remove the forces of adharma from the world, even if force is required. Ahimsa as merely avoiding the use of force, or not using weapons, is something any coward can do.

True ahimsa does not mean non-violence under all circumstances, nor does it require surrender to the forces of darkness in order to avoid conflict. It means reducing the amount of harm going on in the world, which requires a proactive policy. It does not imply only passive resistance but also empowers active resistance when necessary. In this regard, the Indian freedom fighters that used force against the unrighteous British rule were also practising ahimsa, though perhaps not of the Gandhian variety.

Kshatriya ahimsa

The Mahabharata and Vedas extol ahimsa on several levels, notably what Arjuna practised under Krishna’s guidance, which is a good example of Kshatriya ahimsa—the ahimsa or removal of harmful forces that is the duty of the Kshatriya or the warrior/military class of society to fulfill.

Vedic Dharma only brings in the use of armed conflict if all other diplomatic efforts do not work, but does not reject it outright. Krishna though the greatest diplomat of his time could not convince the Kauravas to give up their arrogant efforts to usurp power and not give the Pandavas even five villages of their own.

Arjuna himself in the Mahabharata speaks eloquently on the use of the danda, the rod, symbolising punishment. He says that the danda protects Dharma and that if the danda is not used to protect people, the world falls into blinding darkness.

Ahimsa as the rejection of all use of force, we should note, was also never a state policy in Buddhist countries, as the great Buddhist scholar, Sri Lokesh Chandra has said. We find Buddhist kingdoms with armies and a Buddhist tradition of martial arts extending from India to China and Japan.

Mahaswami Vidyaranya of SringeriHistory of Hindu resistance from monks, yogis and swamis

Monks, yogis and sadhus took vows of ahimsa, but this did not exclude defending people from adharmic attack. The Nath Yogis stood on the front lines, protecting temples and holy sites against Muslim invaders seeking to destroy them. Swami Vidyaranya, in the Shankaracharya line of Sringeri Math, organised the Vijayanagar Empire to protect Hindu Dharma from the Islamic onslaught, inspiring armed resistance that included removing Islamic kingdoms like the Sultanate of Madurai.

The Sikhs as under Guru Gobind Singh employed the same Kshatriya Dharma in fighting the Moguls, for which they were often tortured and killed. The valiant Gurkas of Nepal have a Kshatriya tradition going back to Gorakhnath and the Nath Yogis. Even Brahmins and sadhus took up resistance to Alexander the Great’s assault on India over 2,000 years ago.

This practice of self-defence is the true history of India, not surrendering without a fight under the pretext of following a higher Dharma of ahimsa, meaning desisting from all use of force. Of course, there were instances of Hindu or Buddhist kings behaving unrighteously, but this also was in violation of Dharma and was not honoured either.

Great gurus of modern India like Sri Aurobindo raised a call for a new Kshatriya spirit, a strong military and active resistance when needed. Aurobindo supported the Allied efforts against the Nazis in the Second World War, when Gandhi did not. He also supported the American defence of Korea against the Chinese communist invasion during the Korean War, and warned India of the great dangers of communism that Nehru failed to see.

Need to defend Dharma

We should question the belief of those who hold that Hindus violate their true Dharma of ahimsa by taking up arms against those who attack them. This implies that Hindus who honour the Kshatriya Dharma are violating Dharma and yogic principles. The contrary is true. By denying the right of defence to Hindus, Dharma is violated, not supported and may suffer greatly.

India today is faced with a hostile Pakistan that makes the Kauravas look like saints. In the face of such dire challenges, a strong Kshatriya Dharma is required, which obviously means not only diplomacy but also the possible use of force.

Gandhi’s ahimsa and Nehru’s diplomacy exacerbated the Kashmir problem in the beginning by not taking all of Kashmir back into India after the initial invasion of the region in 1947. Its overemphasis on ahimsa as avoidance of conflict and its failure to fully honour a Kshatriya Dharma discredited India’s true martial spirit and made those in the armed forces feel apologetic about their roles.

ArjunaThe Vedas speak of the need of Brahma and kshatra to go together—meaning that worldly and political power should follow a higher spiritual and yogic Dharma. This principle should be remembered.

The Hindu tradition has never promoted conversion by force, nor has India ever invaded other countries promoting religious wars of conquest. Hindu Dharma considers that moksha or the liberation of the inner self, which exists in the hearts of all, is the ultimate goal of every person. It tells us that we should seek all means of peace and reconciliation in human conflict.

Yet it also holds that we should never compromise truth or Dharma. If you appease a bully, his bullying efforts will only get worse, as Swami Rama Tirtha once said. If the forces of adharma do attack, they must be opposed by all relevant and necessary methods.

To give up without a fight, or to compromise Dharma to avoid conflict, will be taken by the forces of adharma as surrender and an invitation for them to take over. Today India has to stand firm as a military, economic and spiritual force in the world. This is certainly its way of progress for the future in all fields and on all fronts.

Following Lord Krishna today means becoming new Arjunas and boldly facing all possible modern Kurukshetras! – Swarajya, 21 September 2016

» Pandit Vamadeva Shastri (Dr David Frawley) is an author and Sanskrit scholar recognized as a Vedacharya in India. His scope of studies include Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic astrology, as well as the ancient teachings of the Rigveda. He is the Director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa  Fe, New Mexico.

Indian soldiers from the Rashtriya Rifles take part in a full dress rehearsal in New Delhi January 13, 2003.

See also

Between Moolah and the Mullah – Tufail Ahmad

Saudi banker displays the new one hundred riyal note

Tufail AhmadMuslim community leaders of Kerala know only too well about this rapid radicalisation among the youth, but many of them are in denial. – Tufail Ahmad

The hammer-and-sickle is giving way to the crescent of Islamism in Kerala. This is evident in the headlines, and sometimes between the lines of reports that portend grave dangers for the state, perhaps even the whole country. On 13 September, news surfaced that a baby girl was born to Rifaila, who with her husband Ijaz and son and some two dozen other Keralites had left home to join the ISIS more than a year ago. The baby was born in war-torn Syria—a child of jihad, apparently—far from her parents’ house in Kasargode, north Malabar.

On the same day, it emerged that several of these Malayalees were indoctrinated in jihad by a UK-based couple. Though details are yet to be disclosed, it was Yasmin Ahmad who spilled the beans to Indian intelligence agencies on being questioned following her detention at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. Ahmad is the second wife of Abdul Rashid, who had worked at Peace International School at A handout picture released by the King Faisal Foundation on March 1, 2015 shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz (L) presenting Zakir Naik, president of the Islamic Research Foundation in India, with the 2015 King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam in Riyadh. Naik was honoured for being one of the most renowned non-Arabic speaking promoters of Islam. He founded the Peace TV channel, billed as the world's only channel specialising in comparative religion. Malappuram, run by radical televangelist Zakir Naik’s NGO, Islamic Research Foundation. Rashid, along with his first wife and child, is believed to be in Afghanistan.

Muslim community leaders of Kerala know only too well about this rapid radicalisation among the youth, but many of them are in denial.

On 12 September, Ismail Kangarappady, a prayer leader, told a gathering in Kochi, “One cannot even regard the ISIS as an Islamic terrorist outfit. The ideals they propagate have nothing to do with real Islam.” Sharif Melethil, an imam, told worshippers, “Seeking a mysterious paradise is not jihad.”

In Islam, there are two spiritual quests for paradise: one motivates the faithful to live for life after death, while the other often leads Muslims to migrate from non-Muslim lands to Dar-ul-Islam (‘House of Peace’), seen as countries under Islamic rule. During the Hijrat Movement, an offshoot of the 1920s’ Khilafat Movement, Indian Islamic scholars like Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Maulana Abdul Bari, Maulana Muhammad Ali and Maulana Abdul Majeed Sindhi issued a fatwa (decree) declaring that migration to Dar-ul-Islam from Dar-ul-Harb (‘House of War’) was desirable. As a result, a number of Indian Muslims migrated to Afghanistan, though they found themselves unwelcome there. In recent years, some Muslims of Kerala have been going to Yemen, and also to Sri Lanka, where operatives trained in Yemen have established camps.

“I don’t believe the missing youths from Kerala went to join the Islamic State,” Mujib Rahman, a teacher based in Kozhikode, had said in an interview back in July, when it wasn’t clear where the youths had gone. His hunch was that they had gone to Yemen, rather than Syria to fight alongside ISIS.

Rahman is a former president of the Ithihadu Shubbanil Mujahideen, the student wing of Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen (KNM), a Salafist outfit that describes itself as an islaahi (reformist) group with roots in Abul A'la MaududiEgyptian and Saudi religious movements of the late-19th and 20th centuries. Bear in mind, however, that Islamic groups such as the Tablighi Jamaat, Jamaat-e-Islami, ISIS, Taliban and Al-Qaeda all call themselves “reformist” and consider their faith “purer” than that of others.

The KNM has split and reunited many times under the influence of Saudi Arabia-educated members who tend to return with a doctrinal version of Islam that’s at odds with what the group has traditionally preached. While the so-called moderate faction of the KNM has focused on such reforms (in their view) as allowing women into mosques and having the Friday khutba (sermon) in Malayalam, radicalised Saudi returnees have been propagating a kind of Islamic globalism that (among other measures) insists on Arabic for the khutba.

Krishnendhu R. Nath is an NRI based in Malaysia. On 14 June, the eighth day of Ramazan, she was travelling through Kerala’s Muslim-dominated Malappuram district. She felt sick and needed some lime soda. Her husband’s friend went looking from shop to shop along the highway, but was told that since it was the Muslim month of fasting, no refreshment could be sold. Startled by this, she herself went over to confront a shopkeeper. “What is the problem with selling nimbu pani during fasting season? What will travellers like us who have no fasting do?’” According to her Facebook post, the answer she got was: “It is not that we don’t like to. But our shops will be destroyed if we do that.” She got the same response at another shop. “Is this Saudi Arabia?” she exclaimed.

Non-Muslims are aghast at this aggressive display of religious identity in places that have a large Islamic presence. “The Hindu community in Malappuram is now far subdued, far outnumbered by Muslims,” says Vivek Vibha, an architect based in Kochi, observing that assertions of Muslim identity often go with indoctrination and intolerance. Hardliners then tend to gain an upper hand, many of whom manage to foist their thoughts on others and insist on old-fashioned codes of conduct. Ansiba Hassan, a Muslim actor from Kerala, faced abuse from Islamist trolls after she posed for a photograph with Buddhist monks. She was forced to remove the photograph from her Facebook page. Another female actor, Nazriya Nazim, was targeted for not wearing a hijab offscreen. Asif Ali, an actor, was abused for posting a picture from a UK cricket stadium with the caption, ‘The Mecca of Cricket—Lords.’

Professor Kausik Gangopadhyay, who teaches at Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode, notes a suddenness to the new religiosity of Muslims in Kerala. “When I moved to Kozhikode in June 2009, this was a far more open city. No shops will close in Ramazan, except for about half-an-hour at iftaar (sundown break of fast),” he says. “Now even the spelling of Ramazan has changed to ‘Ramadan’, the Arabic version. Saudi Arabia has more influence here. It’s a new influence.” Adds Vibha, “The new rise in Islamism in Kerala is due to money from the Middle East.”

The police confirm large inflows of funds from West Asia into Kerala, some of it illegal. Gold, for example, is smuggled in. Notes M. G. S. Narayanan, a renowned historian, “Money is being pumped in to Kerala. Elected governments always knew it, but did nothing about it.” Sajad Ibrahim, an associate professor of Political Science at University of Kerala, explains the phenomenon. “Don’t be under the impression that only Muslims are bringing money from Gulf countries. Christians from Kerala are working as professionals in the Gulf and get lots of money, followed by Hindus, but Muslims working there are in large numbers,” he says. “All NGOs of Muslims in northern Kerala are rich and powerful. Charitable organisations have links with political parties and exercise influence and power over them,” he adds. The situation in Kerala is unstable, he says, as the Popular Front of India (PFI) have been taking control of mosques and the acts of some Muslims under its sway have caused disharmony between Hindus and Muslims.

Tipu SultanOn 8 July, Muslims arriving for namaaz at Nadakkar, in the heart of Kozhikode, made a blatant show of defying civic rules by parking their bikes in the middle of the road in front of a police station opposite the mosque. The police say they were helpless. Some of the tensions date back centuries. The first recorded conflicts involving Muslims in Kerala go back to the time of Vasco da Gama, whose landing near Kozhikode in 1498 CE some believe brought elements of Europe’s Islam-versus-Christianity dynamics to India. However, it was attacks on Malabar in 1771 and 1789 by Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan that were turning points for Islamist fervour in the region.“Hyder Ali plundered Hindu temples because there was gold there,” says Narayanan, “This was the beginning of the divide between Hindus and Muslims. And Tipu Sultan’s attacks later worsened this divide, as he gave lands seized from Hindus to new lower-caste converts to Islam.”

Ali Musliyar was a principal leader of the Moplah RebellionAbout a century and a half later, the 1921 Malabar Rebellion of Muslims against the British and Hindus marked Kerala’s lowest point in inter-community relations. Some Kerala historians and Congress politicians of the time have presented it as an agrarian conflict, but the uprising had a religious dimension, one factor being the British efforts to rehabilitate Hindus displaced from their lands in Malabar, which provoked the wrath of Moppila Muslims. A large number of Kerala’s Muslims also supported the Khilafat Movement at the time, points out Narayanan.

In 1992, the Ayodhya issue played a critical role in the further radicalisation of Muslims in a state where they have been financially, socially and even politically better off than those in other parts of India.

As a party, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) wielded considerable clout in Kerala’s previous Congress-led coalition government. Abdul Rabb, an IUML minister, even took the liberty of parading his religious identity and power by renaming Ganga, the bungalow allotted to him, as Grace. The IUML flaunts a secular outlook, but various Islamic organisations thrive under its aegis. Last Ramazan, state-provided mid-day meals for students were stopped in the schools of Kozhikode and Malappuram after some Islamic clerics issued a fatwa against them, but IUML leaders could not oppose them, says Kochi-based lawyer Jaysankar.

Focus in Kozhikode is one of several shopping malls in the state that has prayer rooms for Muslims—separate ones for men and women—but none for Hindus and Christians. This encroachment of Kerala’s secular spaces causes unease among Hindus. A. Vinod, a school teacher in Malappuram, notes that earlier homes had names in Malayalam, but Muslim houses now have them in Arabic. Muslims offering prayers in government offices is also common. “Some places should be secular spaces,” he says, adding that there is no such overt religiosity in areas of Christian influence like Tiruchur and Kottayam. In Western countries, airports have multi-faith prayer rooms but not special ones for Muslims.

In Kerala, the expressions “Sunni Muslim” and “Mujahid Muslim” are heard often. Both belong to the Sunni sect of Islam but “Sunni” here refers to a moderate Muslim, perhaps a peasant, with no hostility to non-Muslims and their lifestyles and religious practices. A “Mujahid”, however, means an unarmed radicalised Muslim who advocates piety, detests local rituals and ways of life, and actively opposes them when possible. At Narikunni, 20 km from Kozhikode, Naveen P. K. had opened a Patanjali ayurvedic shop, but posters for the brand’s products were removed by neo-Mujahid Muslims. Fewer Muslims now come to his shop, he says, adding that even Mujahids secretly send their servants to pick up ayurvedic medicines.

Mujahid Muslims represent what would be known internationally as the Wahhabi-Salafist version of Islam, which Jaysankar says has existed at the level of ideas in Kerala since the 1920s. Mujahids preach a puritan version of Islam and oppose Sufi practices at shrines. These are views held increasingly by the KNM as well, and it is from this corpus of ideas that grew the National Development Front (NDF), a radical Islamist group now known as PFI, which has roots in the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), a banned militant group that broke away from the Jamaat-e-Islami.

Abdul Nazer MahdaniAbdul Nasser Madani is a leader whose name figures in the radicalisation of Muslims. He spent jail terms in the cases of the Coimbatore blasts of 1998 and the Bangalore blasts of 2008. P. Unnikrishnan, a former Vigilance Department officer, says that after the demolition of the Babri mosque on 6 December 1992, Muslim zeal was stoked by fiery speeches made by Madani. “In 1999, we arrested some youths for radical activities who confessed that they were attending evening classes led by disciples of Madani,” he says, adding that it was through him that the Tamil Nadu-based group Al Ummah had links with the NDF, which was once the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which he had launched. Unnikrishnan argues that young men and women joining ISIS is an outcome of Islamist fervour in Kerala. He had arrested Ayub Ilyas Sabir for radical activities, he says, but he was granted bail and escaped to Pakistan. At least four infiltrators killed trying to enter Kashmir from across the LoC have turned out to be of Keralite origin. N. P. Balakrishnan, a former police officer, says that there were many arson attacks in the 1990s on cinemas in Malappuram that were the result of incendiary speeches delivered by Madani against the RSS. Over the years, the PDP was transformed into the NDF, and after assimilating other outfits, into the PFI as it is today—the spearhead of radical activism in Kerala and beyond.

There are also conflicts among Muslims in Kerala which reflect the sectarian schisms found in Islam elsewhere in India and abroad. Sayeed Muhammad, author of many books on Islam, says that both Sunnis and Mujahids—in the Kerala terminology—do not consider Ahmadis and Shias as Muslim. In Kerala society, while there are tombs of Muslim mystics, there is no Sufi movement to counter the radicalisation of Muslims, but some Sufi practices are found among Sunnis. While there might not be formal organisations representing Barelvis, Wahhabis and Ahl-e-Hadeesis (another extreme group), their radical ideas filter through to Malayalee Muslims in general. In this context, the gruesome murder in 1993 of Islamic cleric P. K. Muhammad Abdul Hasan Baqavi aka Maulvi Chekannur—whose body was never found—is an important marker on the state’s timeline of Islamist radicalisation. The maulvi had written a book arguing that everyone, including non-Muslims, could go to heaven by the dint of their good deeds, not faith per se. Salim Haji, an uncle of Maulvi Chekannur and president of the Koran Sunnat Society (KSS), which observes his 29 July death anniversary as anti-terrorism day, says that the cleric’s liberal views provoked orthodox groups which felt that he was against the hadiths, the collected sayings of Prophet Muhammad.

An RSS worker based in Thiruvananthapuram, who asks not to be named, rejects the idea that Hindus should worry about Muslim radicalisation. However, he says, “Although there are no cases of open violence, T. J. Josephthere is apprehension among Hindus…. This means that Muslims become followers of political Islam, [arguing for] the necessity of establishing an Islamic state. They are no longer nationalistic. They create hate against the pagan culture of Hindus,” says the RSS worker, “Radicalisation weans away Muslim youngsters from local society. They are taught to be part of only Muslim society. This introduces puritanical elements and they declare local festivals ‘unIslamic'”.

A move to have a sculpture of Tunjethu Ezhuthachan, an eminent figure of Malayalam literature, installed at his birthplace Tirur had to be abandoned because the local municipality opposed it under Muslim pressure. A plan by the Kerala government in 2012 to install a statue of the legendary Muslim actor Prem Nazir, who has a Guinness Book record for acting in over 700 movies, was also opposed by the Kerala Muslim Jamaah Council on religious grounds. On the campus of Cochin University of Science and Technology, the breasts of a plant figurine had to be pruned over similar protests. Even a bust of Mahatma Gandhi could not be put up in the nearby Union Territory of Lakshadweep, which is about three hours from Kochi, due to opposition from Muslims who are in a majority there.

In 2010, when Professor T. J. Joseph’s hand was chopped off—for the alleged blasphemy of Prophet Muhammad in an exam paper he had set—by goons of the PFI, Christian groups and the Left did not stand up in his support. M. G. Radhakrishnan, editor of Asianet News TV, says the Church and the Left were afraid that showing solidarity with Joseph could antagonise Muslims and worsen Christian-Muslim tensions.

The spiralling influence of moolah and the mullah can’t be missed along the Arabian Sea. – Open Magazine, 29 September 2016

» Tufail Ahmad was as Director of South Asian Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington, D.C. He is now described as a Contributing Editor at Firstpost and Executive Director of the Open Source Institute, New Delhi.

Saudi-funded Koran study in a madrasa

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Modi scripts an Army reset – Madhav D. Nalapat

Uri Army Base near Srinagar

Narendra Modi chairs meeting on air strikes against Pakistan terrorists

Prof M. D. NalapatGiven the complete support that the Pakistan army is getting from its Chinese counterpart, senior officials expect that PM Modi will follow up his bold decision on Uri by enforcing accountability mechanisms and procurement systems that ensure that the military in India is made fully capable of “offensive defense” in case of need. – Prof Madhav D. Nalapat

The removal of the Uri Brigade Commander is the start of a new accountability drive led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, senior officials say. They add that the cross-LoC post-Uri operation was from start to finish “a PM Modi initiative”. Highly placed sources confirm that the Prime Minister was emphatic from the start of the crisis that he was “not in the same pacifist mould of some of his predecessors”, and that on his watch, the Indian armed forces would need to react in a manner such that GHQ Rawalpindi finally begins to pay a steeper and steeper price for its terror operations against India. The decade when Manmohan Singh was in charge of governance was “a disaster for military preparedness in India, a fact known to the Pakistan army”, which consequently sought to unsettle the Narendra Modi government with an unprecedented series of cross-border strikes across the Line of Control as well as Punjab, 23 in total since 26 May 2014, which have involved attacks on security forces. In the process, more than 60 suicide bombers from GHQ Rawalpindi’s kamikaze squad have been sent to hell, with a further 98 despatched in a similar direction through interdiction on the LoC. This is not counting the 14 suicide bombers killed during two attacks on Indian diplomatic missions in Afghanistan. All this has taken place in the shadow of a very public outreach by Modi to his counterpart in Islamabad, Nawaz Sharif, who it is well known has less power over the Pakistan army than the donkeys used by that country for the transport of equipment and supplies along the Karakoram route.

High-level sources expect Prime Minister Modi to “enforce accountability on the highest echelons of the military” for the fact that fully 15 of the 23 security installations whose perimeter and sometimes inner line defences were breached, were managed by the Indian Army. What is termed as “Modi Luck” played a major role in ensuring that casualties and damage on the Indian side were small in almost all these security breaches. However, thus far the Manmohan Singh policy of refusing to enforce accountability on the top brass of the military had been largely continued by the present government “and this has now been replaced with a (Modivian) insistence on accountability and punishment”, a senior official opined. He claimed that “credible reports existed that GHQ Rawalpindi was informed that there was a celebratory party at the Uri Brigade Headquarters on the day of the attack and that consequently, security would be more relaxed”, in view of the high spirits common on such occasions.

Lt Gen Philip CamposeWho informed GHQ Rawalpindi of the party, if indeed such celebrations took place? There is also a report that “the brigadier in charge of the post was a golf aficionado who spent much time on his favourite game and to whom tending the golf course was a priority”. It is expected that “in place of the cover ups which took place after the Kargil infiltration and occupation and subsequent lapses in security, this time around there will be an intensive investigation into not just Uri but Pathankot as well”. Another official warned that “any slackness in bringing those responsible for security lapses to account would facilitate a fresh incursion by GHQ’s kamikaze squads. “There has to be 100% prevention of enemy breach of security at important military infrastructure, and the repeated attacks show that such a situation has yet to be ensured”, a top official warned, adding that “as yet, action on few of the recommendations made by the Lt-Gen Philip Campose April 2016 report on security in military installations have been initiated, leave alone completed”.

Manmohan SinghUnder Manmohan Singh, the ratio of revenue expenditure to capital expenditure in the armed forces has risen to 5:1 in the Army, as against 1:1 in the Navy and 2:1 in the Air Force. All three are below desirable norms for the respective services in any calculation of military “tooth to tail” efficiency. During the UPA period, the War Wastage Reserve in the advent of all out conflict fell to less than ten days, as against a desirable level of 40 days, while the quantum of ammunition inducted was less than a fifth of what would be needed in order for full combat readiness. Matters have, however, improved significantly after Manohar Parrikar took over as a whole-time Defence Minister, despite the Raksha Mantri’s Antony-style weekend forays to his home state. “However, as yet the top brass has resisted the drive for greater accountability in their ranks, having gotten used to the laxity of the Manmohan period”, an official revealed.

Among the many issues unaddressed by Manmohan Singh was the fact that the orange stock and butt of the INSAS rifle make it easy to spot by terrorists armed by GHQ Rawalpindi with night vision goggles. Also as yet, the need for 200,000 more 7.62mm assault rifles has not been met, while in sectors of possible future action such as the Northeast, even sand bags are in short supply, not to mention body armour, air defence systems, night vision equipment, artillery and ammunition. Bureaucratic objections by babus, who cannot recognise a rifle from a golf club, have stalled the induction of critically needed equipment such as 4,000 light machine guns and 40,000 carbines. Manmohan Singh left office leaving behind an Army with a shortage of 31,000 soldiers and 9,000 officers, and a sniper force of only 3,000, a third of what is needed. Apart from the fact that not even a single new artillery gun has been inducted since 1987, the crucial Arjun Mk-II tank program is lagging dangerously behind schedule, as are other DRDO procurement programs because of laggard implementation and superfluous changes in specifications masterminded by those secretly in the pay of international arms cartels. Even an item as needed for combat as bulletproof jackets have been pending procurement since 2008, with less than 50,000 available against a need of 400,000, while A. K. Antony’s much touted 17 Mountain Strike Corps remains a dream, rather than an operationally significant reality.

As for the Air Force, the Rafale has had a chequered record in Libya, although the IAF version is considered better, while the Navy needs many more platforms than it has at present. Given the complete support that the Pakistan army is getting from its Chinese counterpart, senior officials expect that PM Modi will follow up his bold decision on Uri by enforcing accountability mechanisms and procurement systems that ensure that the military in India is made fully capable of “offensive defense” in case of need. – Sunday Guardian, 2 October 2016

» Prof Madhav Das Nalapat (M. D. Nalapat) is an Indian academic and columnist. Currently Editorial Director of The Sunday Guardian and ITV Network (India), Vice-Chair of Manipal University’s Advanced Research Group, and Director of the Department of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Karnataka.

Narendra Modi

How long must we ignore Pakistan’s perfidities – Shankkar Aiyar

Nawaz Sharif & Pak Army Chief

Shankkar AiyarIndia is yet again at that intersection where it must avenge its honour, yet it cannot afford to lose its moral stature. … Independent MP Rajeev Chandrashekar proposes to move a Private Member’s Bill in the Rajya Sabha calling for Pakistan to be declared a terrorist state. … It would be interesting to see how the government responds to this approach. – Shankkar Aiyar

Study history, study history. In history lie all the secrets of statecraft….” so said Winston Churchill. Around 45 years ago, as the Pakistani Army waged war against its own people in East Pakistan, Indira Gandhi made a prophetic observation in a TV interview weeks before the 1971 war. She said, “I think, and I personally think most of the world believes this but they may not say so openly, that Pakistan as it existed can never be the same again.”

History is witness, since, to the unravelling of a country—the decoupling of the nation and the emergence of the rogue state. For four decades, Pakistan has leveraged sponsorship of terror as an instrument of statecraft, creating multiple business models. That Pakistan continues to do so while being a member of the UN and a trusted ally of the evangelists of global morality illustrates the perfidy that defines geopolitics.

There has been hopeful excitement about a bill (HR 6069) titled “Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act” introduced in the US House of Representatives by Congressman Ted Poe. He said, “A day of reckoning has arrived. Fifteen years after September 11, 2001, we have more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on. And it’s not America’s.” This is not the first attempt. On March 9, 1995, Congressman Eliot L. Engel along with Representative Bill McCollum supported by seven members introduced a resolution (H Con. Res 35) calling upon the Secretary of State “to designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism”. The 1995 resolution was referred to the Committee on International Relations. The 2016 bill has been referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Committee.

The reality of Pakistan sponsoring terror and providing a safe haven for terrorists has been known and repeatedly proven—Abbottabad is but one location. The fate of India’s repeated presentation of dossiers is well known. Others haven’t fared better either. Rahmatullah Nabil, former head of Afghan spy agency National Directorate of Security, accused Pakistan and ISI of systematically sponsoring terrorism with grim details. Zalmay Khalilzad, former US envoy to Iraq, Afghanistan and UN told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs that Pakistan was playing a double game. He averred that Pakistan, instead of being designated as a “major non-NATO ally”, should be on the “list of state sponsors of terrorism”. Indeed, in February 2015, Edward R. Royce, Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry questioning the strategic partnership between the US and Pakistan.

Richard Nixon & Yahya KhanFact is, Pakistan has insured itself into a secure refuge. The reason is located in history—in the crafting of the principal agent relationship with the US (and with China). On October 25, 1970, Richard Nixon promised Pakistan’s military ruler Yahya Khan that “we will keep our word, we will work with you, try to be as helpful as we can”. That was the price America had to pay for Pakistan brokering peace with China which came through in July 1971. Despite an arms embargo, arms were made available to Pakistan via Turkey and Iran. Indeed, in the 1970s, US Ambassador to India Patrick Moynihan urged in a telegram to the President “Promise Pakistan Anything But Arms” as it would be “feeding the fantasies” of Pakistan.

Osama bin LadenIt would seem that four decades later, the US administration is yet paying the EMI. Since 9/11, it has funded Pakistan to the tune of $25 billion—nearly 70 per cent of which was for security-related assistance. And questions have been raised. In 2011, following Operation Geronimo, a bill titled “Pakistan Foreign Aid Accountability Act” called on the Secretary of State to certify that Pakistan did not know of Laden’s presence. In April 2016, Congressman Matt Salmon (Chairman, Sub Committee on Asia) in his opening remarks on the 2017 Budget (Afghanistan and Pakistan) questioned the conduct of Pakistan and observed “too often they seem to do the bare minimum to keep the money flowing”. Pakistan is also a recipient of aid from multilateral agencies like IDA, World Bank and countries including Japan, the UK and Germany besides the Middle East.

For sure, countries will focus on self-interest. What about multilateral agencies—how sure are they or what is the accountability of end-use of money? What about the state of human rights in Pakistan? The HRW report is a litany of oppression. There is the persecution and execution of minorities—Shia mosques being bombed, Ahmadis being killed, the use of blasphemy laws to institutionalise discrimination. Worse, the government ended an unofficial moratorium on judicial executions.

What about the UN, what about its mandate? Benjamin Netanyahu recently described the transition of the UN from a “moral force to a moral farce”. Fact is, the UN Security Council Counter Terrorism Committee lists 38 resolutions of varying angles passed since 9/11. That, however, hasn’t yet resulted in even a question on how Pakistan repeatedly pops in the discourse on terror attacks—most recently the New York bomber. For sure, not every Pakistani supports terrorism. But events and facts beg the question as to why so many terrorists seem to have passed through Pakistan?

India is yet again at that intersection where it must avenge its honour, yet it cannot afford to lose its moral stature. Options range from and include diplomatic isolation, military action, denying Indus river water and so on. Independent MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar proposes to move a Private Member’s Bill in the Rajya Sabha calling for Pakistan to be declared a terrorist state. It stops short of asking the government to move a resolution in the UN. It would be interesting to see how the government responds to this approach.

They say you cannot escape your history and geography. India’s challenge is to find answers independently to establish its pre-eminence. That, however, still leaves open the question that now must be answered by the evangelists of global good: how long will the international community be mute spectators while a rogue state commits genocide at home and sponsors terrorism across the world? It is an inflection point in history.  – The New Indian Express, 26 September 2016

» Shankkar Aiyar is an analyst for The New Indian Express and  author of Accidental India: A History of the Nation’s Passage through Crisis and Change. He tweets at @ShankkarAiyar.

Pakistan : State of the Nation

13 – Tamil Nadu in the grip of Jihad – Thamizhchelvan

Ramanathapuram Collector & Police Official at Iftar Party

JournalistThe fundamentalists of Ramanathapuram have been supporting ISIS and Kashmiri separatist movements. The coastal area has fallen under the control of jihadis. Secret camps are conducted for giving weapons training. Rampant smuggling of gold, arms and narcotics has been happening with ease. … The Ramanathapuram coast is a security threat for India. – Thamizhchelvan

In its documentary on Jihad in Tamil Nadu released in February 2016, Hindu Munnani had earmarked a considerable portion to show how the district of Ramanathapuram has come under the spell of Islamic fundamentalism over the years.

Vaethalai, a small town in the district occupied an infamous spot in our history when the Muslims of the town protested against the celebrations of India’s independence in 1947. Vadivelu, a shopkeeper from Vaethalai says, “A few years ago, some Islamic fundamentalists unfurled the national flag upside down. They deliberately dump garbage around our Vinayakar temple and threaten us not to use loudspeakers during our bhajans in temples in the auspicious Tamil month of Markazhi”.

Politicians from the district have always been encouraging and supporting Islamic fundamentalists. In 2004, during the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, the fundamentalists indulged in stone pelting and instigated riots under the supervision of a member of the State Assembly, who is now a Member of Parliament.

Chinnathambi, a local person from Pudhumadam area says, “On 16th of August 2006, the then Panchayat Chairman, along with his supporters, brought down the national flag and tied up footwears up above the flag pole”. He adds that Hindus in that village are discriminated in many ways.

Ramanathapuram: Press advertisement calling for space for construction of mosques

Devi Pattinam is another coastal hamlet dominated by the minority community. When one Zakir Hussain became panchayat president, local fundamentalists prevented Hindus from celebrating the traditional Dharma Muneeswarar temple festival in May 2013. A challenge was thrown at Hindus to celebrate the festival. Earlier, construction of a new mosque was facilitated strategically on the procession route. Local Hindus say that fundamentalists from outside areas were brought in to beat them.

Based on the complaint lodged by Hindus, the police formally apprehended just two juvenile boys and sent them to “reformation” school. Local Hindu women say they fear even going to bazaars as they are threatened quite often. They say that the local police are faithful to the fundamentalists.

Segu Naina held the post of panchayat chairman of a place called Thondi, which was a historically significant port. On his instructions, government authorities demolished a temple without the knowledge of Hindus, in order to construct a coastal police station. Although 120 acres of poromboke land is available near the temple, they unnecessarily demolished the temple which was located on just 3 cent land. The local villagers allege that Segu Naina had vowed to demolish all Hindu temples in Muslim-dominated Thondi. The police filed cases against the Hindus who questioned the demolition of the temple.

Fundamentalist activities increased manifold when Jawahirullah of Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (political face of the Tamilnadu Muslim Munnetra Kazahagam, TMMK) was elected to the state assembly in 2011.

Another fishing hamlet, Periyapattinam, seems to be under the control of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI). A local, named Pazhani, got converted as Mohammed Basheer and is now forcing Hindus of his locality, Mutharaiyar Nagar, to convert to Islam.

Ramanathapuram: Muslim youth get secret weapons training

Fundamentalist elements from various states like Assam, Bihar, Karnataka and Kerala were receiving weapons training in Periyapattinam. When the police caught them on 25 June 2012, all fundamentalist organizations indulged in a concerted agitation; the government yielded to their pressure and all extremists were released. The Arab-style mosque built in this nondescript hamlet is a classic example of Wahhabism getting entrenched in the state.

Thirupullani is a famous Hindu shrine located on the shores. It is a Ramayana heritage temple signifying the episode of Rama resting on grass (Dharba Sayana) contemplating ways and means of reaching Lanka. Ramachandran, a local person says, “The name board of the temple was smashed by fundamentalists on 20 February 2013 and the police didn’t take any action even after a complaint was registered”.

Another person, Durai says, “Fundamentalists from SDPI indulged in violence during Swami Vivekananda’s 150th year anniversary celebrations in a government school at Vannangadu near Thirupullani on 9 March 2013”.

Ramanathapuram : Warning boards by Jamaths directed at Hindus

Many coastal hamlets are under the spell of fundamentalism. The state government’s plan to form a separate taluk bringing all these villages under the same administration was not welcomed by the Hindus. Muslim jamaths have displayed “warning boards” banning outsiders—read Hindus—from entering their villages. These boards were removed by the police only after the issue got national attention after it was reported by the Delhi-based Daily Pioneer on 16 February 2013.

Tamil Muslim youth in ISIS t-shirts

The fundamentalist youth of Thondi displayed their association with the international terrorist organization ISIS by wearing T-shirts with ISIS logo. The photograph was posted on a Facebook page named Mukanool Muslim Media (Muslim Facebook Media), run by a foreign-based extremist named Sangai Ridwan.

Sangai Ridwan

This man, operating from the shadows, never reveals his identity even to his own brethren whom he tries to recruit for extremist activities. When the issue caught nationwide attention due to media reports, the state police filed an ordinary case and even justified it by saying that ISIS was not a banned organization. Meanwhile, fundamentalist organizations such as SDPI protested the police action and warned that the youth should not be arrested. The state police didn’t bother to investigate further.

SP Pattinam is a place near Thondi. On 10th October 2014, when a rowdy by name Syed Mohammed stabbed Sub Inspector Kalidas while trying to escape from jail, Kalidas fired in self-defense and the rowdy died. Muslim organizations took to streets and started attacking Hindus in the name of bandh. Their leaders demanded that  the government take action against police officer Kalidas. The State Government yielded to the pressure, suspended Sub Inspector Kalidas, ordered his arrest and sanctioned a solatium of Rs 5 lakhs to his family. Kalidas had to fight for more than a year to come out on bail.

Fundamentalists attacking temples seems to be a regular phenomenon in Ramanathapuram district. The documentary shows locals describing the attacks and bombings on temples such as Vallaba Vinayak temple at Sandhakadai (19.09.2012), Veerabhadra and Kannan temples (31.10.2012), Om Sakthi Vinayagar temple (21.09.2013), to name a few.

Swami Vivekananda landed on the shores of Ramanathapuram after delivering his historical speech at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. To commemorate the event, a lamp post was erected and it stands as a lasting memorial for the saint. Jihadis desecrate this lamp post regularly. Durai of Gnana Deepam Seva Sangam, which maintains the lamp-post, says, “Every year, during the occasion of Vivekananda Jayanthi, we would renovate it and the jihadis who visit the nearby mosque for prayers, desecrate it. Even if we identify the culprits and inform the police, they do not initiate any action”.

Apart from attacking temples, jihadis also indulge in encroaching temple lands. Armed with the documents obtained by RTI, advocate Ramamurthi of Hindu Munnani says, “Salim Mullah Khan the former district secretary of Tamilnadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, has encroached upon the land belonging to Agni Veerabadreshwarar Temple situated near Ramanathapuram bus stand and has constructed houses and shops upon it. Even after getting the required documents through Right to Information Act and after petitioning the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Department and the collector about the loot, no action is forthcoming”.

Disrupting temple processions, threatening temples not to use loud speakers, hiring spaces near temples on rent and conducting namaz there, are some of the activities being indulged in by jihadis to threaten or provoke Hindus. Unfortunately the police seem to support them as averred by local Hindus in the documentary.

Councillor Nagarajan says that government officers belonging to the community connive with the jihadis and help them encroach highways and poramboke lands. He says, “Municipal Commissioners Mujibur Rehman and Sirajudheen have helped a Muslim business house by name Maharaja Textiles, by allotting the government hospital complex as the parking space for the vehicles visiting their shops, apart from making the entire stretch as a ‘one-way’ stretch.”

The jihadis do not spare even the police, despite their being faithful to them. Kenikkarai police station located just outside the collectorate was attacked by jihadis on 2nd February 2014 for arresting a criminal, and a sub inspector grievously injured. Even while the officer was trying to control the mob, his jeep was torched. In spite of all this, the police recorded the incident as ‘accident’.

Ramanathapuram : Iftar party inside Keezhakarai Government Hospital

Government officers, taking cue from the Government, go to any extent for appeasing these groups. On 14 June 2014, the district police stormed into an RSS camp and arrested the cadres who were doing physical exercises and drill. The collector issued a show-cause notice to the concerned school for allotting its premises for an RSS camp. But the very same collector participated in iftar parties and other functions organized by extremist organizations like TMMK. Following the footsteps of their seniors, the junior staff of Keezhakarai government hospital turned their premises into a virtual fortress for Ramzan festivities and iftar parties.

Local holiday has been in vogue for the annual festivities of the famous Uttarakosa Mangai temple in Ramanathapuram, since the British era. The very same district collector cancelled that holiday in 2015. In 2014, he ordered removal of raksha threads worn by school students and audaciously justified his order by saying that it was done to put an end to the skirmishes happening between the students! When asked the reason for allowing minority students to wear their religious symbols, he reportedly said he would do as he pleased and challenged the Hindus to go to court against him.

M. H. Jawahirullah

The documentary says that the political parties have given the district on a platter to the fundamentalists. They have always placed Muslims as their candidates in elections and those candidates have invariably won. In 1996, it was Rehman Khan from DMK, in 2001 it was Anwar Raja from AIADMK, and in 2006 it was Hasan Ali from Congress-DMK combine, and in 2011 Jayalalithaa gave the seat to her ally MMK; its state president Jawahirullah contested and won. It may be recalled that Jawahirullah was formerly with SIMI and was one of the founder members of Al Ummah, which perpetrated the Coimbatore blasts in 1998. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Mohammed Jaleel contested for DMK and Anwar Raja contested for AIADMK; Anwar Raja won.

The fundamentalists of Ramanathapuram have been vociferously supporting ISIS and Kashmiri separatist movements. Almost the entire coastal area has fallen under the control of jihadis. Secret camps are conducted for giving weapons training. Rampant smuggling of gold, arms and narcotics has been happening with ease. Palm groves and thorny bushes serve as excellent hideouts. Mosques with tall minars are being built at regular intervals along the coast.

These mosques serve as hideouts for militants who infiltrate from Sri Lanka. Pakistan’s ISI allegedly sends militants from Sri Lanka to India through this coastal belt. As Mannar province of Sri Lanka is Muslim-dominated, the ISI creates militant cells and they infiltrate through Ramanathapuram. The Tamilnadu-Kerala connection of jihadis is already thriving. And for the ISI, Ramanathapuram in the Bay of Bengal is like Malappuram of the Arabian Sea. The documentary asserts that the Ramanathapuram coast is a security threat for India.

(To be continued)

The above incidents and more on Jihadi activities in Ramanathapuram district can be seen in the following YouTube link: Ramanathapuram in Danger



Uri Attack: Talk of a tactical response over the strategic one is growing louder – Danvir Singh

Narendra Modi & Pranab Mukherjee

Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Manohar Parrikar & top officials

Colonel Danvir SinghEvery attack is followed by high level meetings followed by dossiers and diplomatic sparring. On the other side, the cunning Pakistani leaders snigger at the Indian rhetoric. … India has to be serious to get the support it desires from the world on Pakistan. We need to help ourselves before expecting any one else to help us. – Colonel Danvir Singh

On September 18,  Home Minister Rajnath Singh cancelled his overseas visit after hearing of the attack on an army camp in Uri. Back in 2014 on December 05, six terrorists had attacked the Indian Army’s camp at Mohura in Uri. The Army then had retaliated killing all the six terrorists. Our own losses included eight army soldiers and three Jammu and Kashmir policemen. In all, 17 human lives were lost.

In a rerun of sorts, a similar audacious attack was launched in the wee hours on September 18, 2016 at Uri on an Army Camp by Pakistani terrorists. Amasingly the response of the government of India, the media and the analysts appeared to be eerily similar to that which followed the earlier attacks. A response that has been well rehearsed over and over again. Something that has been perfected, as it appears, in the ongoing proxy war unleashed by our revisionist neighbour, Pakistan.

No one seems to have learnt a lesson. The Army always blames it on the harsh inhospitable terrain to cover up its ineffectiveness  in checking infiltration. This despite the fact that millions of rupees have been invested in erecting the fence along the LoC and three-tier counter infiltration Army deployment providing depth to the obstacle.

The politicians have their responses ready depending upon the forthcoming elections and their political constituencies and compulsions. The media goes berserk chasing prime time headlines. National fervour, emotions, melodrama and the aggressive argumentative Indian makes a perfect TRP recipe.

Every attack is followed by high level meetings followed by dossiers and diplomatic sparring. On the other side, the cunning Pakistani leaders snigger at the Indian rhetoric, quietly reminding their arch enemy India about their nuclear capability.

Masood AzharThis set piece performance as per the script has become a part of our existence and psyche.  More than 24 hours have elapsed since the four gun blazing Jaish-e-Mohamad terrorists came and butchered 17 Indian soldiers. An extremely shameful incident for any soldier and the army at large.

Adding injury to that insult is the vain waiting of a decision to enable take the revenge for those killed comrades. A wait that seems unending. Frustration and demoralisation grows with each attack, and the rising body count.

Since day before yesterday, there have been a series high level meetings at New Delhi.  A few tweets and a few statements did generate a hope of a retaliation or at least a muscular response. At this juncture, I would like to recall the statement of the then Indian Army Chief, General Bikram Singh, who after the LoC beheadings, said, “we will retaliate at the place and time of our own choosing”.  Alas! In these many years we have not been able to select a place and set the time. The soldiers continue to die as the nation and its army bleeds.

Being an optimistic veteran, I believe and hope that this time around the script may change. India could respond. Discussions are underway to work out the type of response, be it diplomatic, strategic or tactical or a mix of all.

The nation looks at the Prime Minister with the hope that he will call the Pakistani bluff and teach them an everlasting lesson. Within the military circles, the talk of a tactical response over the strategic one is growing increasingly louder. As an old saying goes, “the ships are not built for the harbours.” Let’s hope our national prestige and soldier’s honour is restored and the battle ships steam out. By the fall of the evening on September 19, it emerged that the Indian Prime Minister has asked his government to focus on isolating Pakistan diplomatically.

Is India buying time? Or has Mr Narendra Modi realised what his predecessors, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Mr Manmohan Singh came to realise about the harsh facts of our strength and political will after the Parliament and Mumbai attacks? Has Modi covered those startling gaps in preparedness of our armed forces, which was once highlighted by his own minister General V. K. Singh, when he was the Military Chief, through his leaked letter to the Prime Minister.

Or, has Mr Modi has decided to play a Mrs Gandhi, who went ahead to shape the world opinion before reshaping the region’s map. The options available to India that can be exercised under present circumstances are diplomatic, strategic and tactical in that  order. Diplomatically India needs to go out all tongs and hammer to expose the real face of Pakistan to the world. We need to highlight the atrocities in Baluchistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir to the world, and walk the talk of extending support to Baluchistan as underscored by the Prime Minister on August  15 from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

India needs to change its stance from being a vulnerable nation at the mercy of Pakistan to a strong aggressive nation at the UNGA. We need to expose Pakistan at the world body and reply credibly to the Kashmir  bogey.

Pinaka Rocket LauncherStrategically on long-term basis we need to strengthen our position in Afghanistan and support Baluch movement more substantially both materially and morally.

Going specifically on the response to Uri, India could explore usage of Navy for an economic blockade supported by cruise missile attacks on all the terrorist camps in POK and Pakistan Punjab. Use of Air Force at initial stage could bring in reverses as Pakistan’s air defence would all be primed, their eyes fully focused  on the Indian skies. Hence that may not be a wise option.

While exercising this option,  India will have to be prepared for the likely heavy cost of the conflict spiralling out of control on the escalatory ladder. Tactically, Indian army could raise the bar and bring upon the enemy to bear a heavy price for facilitating infiltration by smothering their defensive posts on the LoC that fall on that nefarious route. Weapons like the Smerch, Pinnaka and the Bofors could play havoc with Pakistani positions across the Line of Control. Use of infantry and special forces for cross border raids could augment the tactical efforts.

On the domestic front, we need to strike a unity in all political voices when it comes to action against Pakistan as the tone tends to change due to ethnic and religious affinity shared across the border with their core vote bank constituencies.

India has to be serious to get the support it desires from the world on Pakistan. We need to help ourselves before expecting any one else to help us.

It’s the right time now. – The New Indian Express, 20 September 2016

» Colonel Danvir Singh is a former CO of 9 Sikh Light Infantry. He is now an associate editor of Indian Defence Review and author of Kashmir’s Death Trap: Tales of Perfidy and Valour. Email him at

Map of secret terrorist training camps in Pakistan

Uri Heroes


Uri Attack: Is India getting impatient with Delhi’s strategic restraint? – Prashant Jha

Narendra Modi & Nawaz Sharif

Prashant Jha“Strategic restraint”, a phrase limited to defence or foreign policy experts, is suddenly part of public discourse. Going beyond it may seem desirable, there are political and social pressures pushing India towards it, but it is a difficult unchartered path where risks, so far, appear to outweigh gains. – Prashant Jha

The Uri attack that left 17 [18] soldiers dead has triggered calls for India to shed strategic restraint and impose costs on Pakistan for engineering such strikes.

High-level security meetings are underway to devise a response. And there is a general air of uncertainty about what will come next in the already strained India-Pakistan ties.

The call for an aggressive response, especially on social media, comes in the backdrop of a perception that India has, for too long, taken Pakistani hostilities lying down.

As the rhetoric gets shriller, it is important to answer three questions.

What is this much-derided strategic restraint that India has been practising? Why has Delhi stuck to strategic restraint despite several provocations, including the 2008 Mumbai strike? And, what has changed now?

Broadly, strategic restraint meant that while India condemned an attack, raised the issue internationally, sought to expose Pakistan’s use of terror as a state policy and stepped up internal security, it did not launch a military counter-offensive.


For one, there is no easy option to inflict costs on Pakistan. Crossing the Line of Control—even in “hot pursuit”—could mean an all out war. Given the nuclearisation of the subcontinent, it is too risky because unlike India, Pakistan doesn’t adhere to the no-first use policy and has flirted with tactical nuclear weapons.

Second, the feeling was that even a surgical strike would drag India into a conflict, adversely hitting economy at home and the India story aboard.

Three, a military offensive is no guarantee of providing a solution to the crisis, which is unique.

If it was just about taking territory, Indian armed forces could well do it.

But the challenge is to force the Pakistani army to give up its policy of exporting terror. India may have the military superiority but a clean, quick victory that would force Pakistan to end the covert war is not certain. In fact, in the short term, terror strikes could well see a rise.

An Indian offensive would go on to strengthen the notorious Pakistani military-ISI-jihadi nexus, which is at the forefront of bleeding India by a thousand cuts.

An Indian response would give credence to their claim—“Hindu India” has evil designs on Pakistan and all should unite against the challenge.

So, why is there now a push for an aggressive response?

For one, India is changing. Its vast nationalist middle-class respects the armed forces, sees Pakistan as an incorrigible enemy, believes that problems in Kashmir are the creation of Islamabad, and is regularly fed a dose of patriotism by some aggressive television.

This constituency is impatient and asks—why a rising India, a powerful India, a bigger India, and an India which is on the “right side” should cave in to Pakistan. And, this is not just a city phenomenon.

In travels across largely rural Uttar Pradesh in recent months, this writer met several young people and many were unhappy with the Modi government’s Pakistan policy. “We should be more aggressive” was the chorus.

There is a second, somewhat paradoxical, reason for this impatience. India has faced a series of terror attacks over the years but the younger generation doesn’t seem to have a sense of what a war means and the suffering that comes with it.

Do remember a bulk of the country’s population is below 25. The last full-scale war that India fought was 45 years ago in 1971 against Pakistan. Many have memories of Kargil but its scale and impact was limited.

And finally, the government of the day, which in a sense represents the constituency outlined above, that believes India’s mistake has been its inability to display hard power.

The BJP championed, in the election campaign, a tough stand it would take—as BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said it in a Twitter post soon after the attack—“for one tooth, the complete jaw”.

The aggressive response to ceasefire violations along the LoC in 2014 was in keeping with that line. Top officials believe there has to be unpredictability in policy otherwise status quo would prevail and Pakistan will continue to “kick India” around. It is time not to succumb to “Pakistani blackmail”

“Strategic restraint”, a phrase limited to defence or foreign policy experts, is suddenly part of public discourse. Going beyond it may seem desirable, there are political and social pressures pushing India towards it, but it is a difficult unchartered path where risks, so far, appear to outweigh gains. – Hindustan Times, 18 September 2016

» Prashant Jha is an author and associate editor at The Hindustan Times.

Uri's Fallen Heroes

Uri Army Base near Srinagar

Line of Control Kashmir 2016