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The Kashmir Charade This Winter

The ill-planned and hurried appointment of an interlocutor for Kashmir by the government, supposedly for a sustained dialogue, does not suggest that the government is serious about resolving the Kashmir conflict. The initiative, however, appears to want to hold the United States at bay, which needs India and Pakistan talking to safeguard its Afghan engagement. The interlocutor’s mission will likely turn out to be yet another wasted opportunity in Kashmir.

India and China

India–China relations have always been shaped by contradictory factors, with forces of cooperation limited by competing geopolitical ideas and interests. This complex model of interactions has served both sides reasonably well, and attempts to elevate one mode of interaction as the dominant one have invariably failed. The recent Doklam crisis showed that, despite efforts from both sides to transform the relationship to one of outright rivalry and conflict, the basic framework proved resilient enough to pull back both countries from the brink.

Dilating on a ‘Half-front War’

The reference to a “two and a half front war” by Army Chief General Bipin Rawat is critically dissected. The “half front” apparently covers large tracts of India and a significant number of its marginalised people. The thought of a war on the half front, as conjured by this term, needs to be controverted outright. The army’s imagining of such a war and preparation for it is questioned.

Locating the Belt and Road in China’s Broader Policy Shifts

The Belt and Road initiative is part of a broader Chinese policy reorientation where its leaders are responding to the challenges and opportunities of a fraying United States–led international order. The B&R was envisaged to gain strategic depth in the inner Asian hinterland to counteract geostrategic pressure from the US–Japan alliance as well as to buy time to reform a highly imbalanced domestic political economy.

A Disjointed Doctrine

The recently released joint doctrine of the armed forces outlines the manner in which they expect to fight the next war. Though the doctrine suggests “decisive victory” is possible, it bears reminding that the closer they get to this the closer would be the nuclear threshold. Since the doctrine does not dwell on the nuclear level, it cannot be said that the doctrine makes India any safer. However, the doctrine’s take on civil–military relations is far more interesting.

Corrosive Impact of Army’s Commitment in Kashmir

The army has had an extended deployment in Kashmir. While it has enabled operational experience for its members, there is a danger that the advantages of this can make the army acquire a stake in the disturbed conditions. This makes the army part of the problem in Kashmir. Its deployment is not without a price in regard to the internal good health of the army.

India’s Opposition to China–Pakistan Economic Corridor Is Flawed

China is opening up its land borders in Xinjiang to interact more freely with Central Asia and Europe. China and Pakistan are jointly building the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India views this as a violation of its sovereignty. Geopolitics rather than geoeconomics predominates India’s thinking on possibilities offered by the revival of the old Silk Road by the Chinese.

War and What To Do About It

A case for the peace lobby to continue its engagement with anti-war issues, even in times of relative peace. The military doctrines are geared for a quick war, resulting in shorter crisis windows. Therefore, keeping the public informed and capitalising on such preparations for ensuring moderation in strategic decisions in crises and war can prove useful when push comes to shove. This would be an uphill task, but inescapable for war avoidance and limitation.

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