Who Failed Afghanistan? Who will help it to succeed?

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was a multinational military mission in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014. It was established by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1386 pursuant to the Bonn Agreement, which outlined the establishment of a permanent Afghan government following the U.S. invasion in October 2001. ISAF’s primary goal was to train the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and assist Afghanistan in rebuilding key government institutions, though it gradually took part in the broader war in Afghanistan against the Taliban insurgency.

ISAF’s initial mandate was to secure the Afghan capital of Kabul and its surrounding area against opposition forces to facilitate the formation of the Afghan Transitional Administration headed by Hamid Karzai. In 2003, NATO took command of the mission at the request of the UN and Afghan government, marking its first deployment outside Europe and North America. Shortly thereafter the UN Security Council expanded ISAF’s mission to provide and maintain security beyond the capital region. It gradually broadened its operations in four stages, and by 2006 took responsibility for the entire country; ISAF subsequently engaged in more intensive combat in southern and eastern Afghanistan.

From 2006 until 2014, NATO debate on ISAF centred around means instead of ends: how the burden of fighting should be equally distributed among the member states; what operational concepts like the “comprehensive approach” or “counterinsurgency”—often wrongly termed “strategies”—should be followed, or how to “transition” to Afghan responsibility. Pursuant to its ultimate aim of transitioning security responsibilities to Afghan forces, ISAF ceased combat operations and was disbanded in December 2014. A number of troops remained to serve a supporting and advisory role as part of its successor organization, the Resolute Support Mission.

The decision to launch a follow-on, NATO-led non-combat mission to continue supporting the development of the Afghan security forces after the end of ISAF’s mission in December 2014 was jointly agreed between Allies and partners with the Afghan government at the NATO Summit in Chicago in 2012. This commitment was reaffirmed at the Wales Summit in 2014.

Resolute Support was a NATO-led, non-combat mission. The mission was established at the invitation of the Afghan government and in accordance with United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 2189 of 2014. Its purpose was to help the Afghan security forces and institutions develop the capacity to defend Afghanistan and protect its citizens in the long term. 38 Countries (Albania, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom an United States) had posted their personnel to the mission in Afghanistan at different points in time.

In February 2020, the United States and the Taliban signed an agreement on the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan by May 2021.

On 14 April 2021, recognising that there is no military solution to the challenges Afghanistan faces, the Allies decided to start the withdrawal of RSM forces by 1 May 2021.

NATO’s assumption of ISAF command on the one hand, and ISAF expansion on the other did not go hand in hand with a total revision of the DOD’s (US Department of Defence) position. Not only the sentiments of the “unilateralist” major US but the emotions of the non-Muslim world post “9/11”, which pushed NATO to be engaged in Afghanistan as intensely as possible − even without clearly defined political goals. This was not a conscious project but an unintended result of the colluding interests of the political masters in NATO countries with those of their administrative cadres. UN was made the Accidental Front.

The Afghans now have suffered generation after generation of not just continuous warfare but humanitarian crises, one after the other, and the world has to remember that this is not a civil war that the Afghans started among themselves that the rest of the world got sucked into. This situation was triggered by an outside invasion, initially by the Soviet Union, during the Cold War, and since then the country has been a battleground for regional and global powers seeking their own security by trying to militarily intervene in Afghanistan, whether it be the United States after 2001, the C.I.A. in the nineteen-eighties, Pakistan through its support first for the Mujahedeen and later the Taliban, or Iran and its clients. To blame Afghans for not getting their act together in light of that history is just wrong.

In the nineteen-nineties, there were only three governments in the world that recognized the Taliban: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. And this time around, too, Pakistan will be one of them. It isn’t the nineties, but Pakistan is still in the same awkward place that it was last time around. The Saudis and the Emiratis have a new geopolitical outlook. But China is not the same country that it was in the nineties. How will China support Pakistan in trying to manage a second Taliban regime, especially one that may attract sanctions or other kinds of pressure from the United States and its allies is something to be watched? Flirting with Taliban will blow back on Pakistan in one way or another, be that in the form of international pressure or instability.

Biden Administration is unlikely to change its policy. US cannot reverse the Taliban’s momentum without bombing Afghanistan to shards. US can certainly take responsibility for the lion’s share of the response to this unfolding humanitarian crisis to arrest the setting in of another massive refugee flow, which could certainly have political consequences.

US does what it likes – be it in Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Iraq or Afghanistan – the rest of the countries either support or keep quiet, few feeble voices of dissent are barely audible noises.


First posted on 28 Aug 2021


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Globalisation: Did We Stretch It Too Far?

Globalisation refers to the integration of markets in the global economy, leading to the increased interconnectedness of national economies.  Markets where globalisation is particularly significant include financial markets, such as capital markets, money and credit markets, and insurance markets, commodity markets, including markets for oil, coffee, tin, and gold, and product markets, such as markets for motor vehicles and consumer electronics. Interconnectedness has also created inter-dependencies. The globalisation of language, media, information, attire, culture, food, sport, entertainment, taboos, behaviour and styles of human interaction is also a feature of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

After years of hedging or discounting the malign effects of free trade, it is time to face facts: globalisation caused job losses and depressed wages, and the usual remedies – such as instructing affected populations to accept the new reality – aren’t going to work. Unless something changed, the political consequences were likely to get worse.

It was only a few decades ago that globalisation was held by many, even by some critics, to be an inevitable, unstoppable force. “Rejecting globalisation,” the American journalist George Packer has written, “was like rejecting the sunrise.”

The decline and fall of the Soviet Union came about not because of any lack of its military might. Rather, it imploded because the West, and specifically the United States, used freedom of thought, capitalism and the enormous power of the free market to marginalize, reduce, and collapse the Soviet Union. They simply couldn’t compete on any level with the West. From technology to the quality of life provided for its people, the Soviet Union became a nation without a future. United States has since then been leading a uni-polar world. The US dominance spread far and wide but did not see any interdependence.

China learnt from the Soviet collapse and decided to pursue the goal of global dominance, and become the second of the bi-pole. The first action was managing its domestic affairs. China imposed unprecedented restrictions on its citizens while introducing its version of state-capitalism. This combined thought control with billions in international trade that, in turn, has funded a growing and potent military armed with nuclear weapons. For China’s leadership, however, that is still not enough. The United States continues to dominate the 21st century.

Trump was the first US President to acknowledge that globalisation had resulted into hundreds of billions in investment, manufacturing, jobs, and entire factories leaving the United States for China. This created consternation, alarm and quite a bit of anger in Beijing, which had not expected America ever to acknowledge that China benefitted due to US policies and thought. China quickly recognised that if the U.S. continued to demand economic reciprocity, China could easily lose its ability to claim solo superpower status for the remaining decades of the 21st century.

It is not certain that Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin, actually said, “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them,” but if he didn’t, he certainly thought it, and if still around would like to claim that foresight as his own. China’s leaders have long believed that America’s unsustainable trade imbalance with China is that rope. US have given its technology, its funds and its markets to China and China now has the rope round the US neck. And this has not happen for the first time. Eighty years ago, it was Hitler and Pearl Harbour, and more recently 9/11. US have been attacked using US technology and US funds.

The interconnectedness of the globe and integration of the global-supply-chain of the contagion has been demonstrated by the pan-world spread of Sars-Cov2 virus within a few weeks. Can one ask for any higher efficiency of exchange?

The entire World in general and the US in particular need to revisit the idea of globalisation and reorient it to interconnectedness of national economies minus the public welfare including but not limited to food-safety, national defence, healthcare and national-leadership. Dilution of nation-state which has taken place over the last 3-decades has to make way for a renewed sense of patriotism that will protect our nation today and far into the future. SWAADHYAAY, SWADESHI and SWAAVALAMBAN are the mantras which were never obsolete but forgotten in the allure of ‘wealth-creation’ for ‘shareholders.’


(First published on 09 May 2020 on LinkedIn)


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Paying For Corona-War: Takhat Singh Taught Me, Not Keynes

John Maynard Keynes drafted a radical plan for the Chancellor of the British Exchequer on “How to Pay for the War” in which he provided a road-map for an inadequately armed country of 40 million people, with an economy which had been performing poorly in the inter war years, could at least start to function well enough to take on a much better performing country, at least economically, of twice its population.

We shouldn’t say that Keynes showed us how to pay for everything, not in the least for the CORONA-WAR. Clearly that is not possible, but if we understand what he was saying, we can also understand that we can afford to pay for much more than we do.

What explains the variation in how countries pay for the war or would be paying for their wars against Coronavirus? Just as Keynes suggested, nations must choose between four primary means of war finance: taxation, domestic debt, external extraction, and printing. Each alternative has different political and economic costs and benefits. Borrowing compounds the cost of war through high interest rates; printing can result in disastrous inflation; taxation combats high inflation and minimizes cost yet can be politically damaging; while garnering money from abroad invites outside influence and fosters dependency.

From my school, I am reminded of Mr Takhat Singh, supposedly a former prince, who was a hostel superintendent (let me recall the other 3 – Ms S Ghosh, Mr JK Agrawal and Mr SP Malhotra) responsible for proper grooming and turn-out of the cadets. My contemporaries from the school would recall our nick-name for him – ‘Ke naam saab’ – his ‘takia kalaam’ (catch phrase) which translates as ‘what is your name?’

Whenever he hauled us up for anything missing in our uniform or dress kit, our standard excuse used to be, “I have lost it sir,” and his unflinching suggestion used to be, “Beg, Borrow, Steal.”

Doesn’t these four choices – out of what one owns, what one could beg, what one could borrow or what one could steal as ways of fulfilments for the required item in dress-kit – larger set of alternatives than the Keynesians’ choices, for Keynes did not recommend the choice of ‘Beg.’

‘Beg’ has somewhat derogatory and selfish-personal connotations therefore better expressions like ‘solicit alms,’ ‘seek donation,’ ‘ask for charity,’ ‘petition for contribution,’ ‘plead for assistance’ and so on, can be used instead.

Conventional wisdom suggests that the type of the regime in the country dictates any strategy for financing a war. The fact of the matter however is that type of regime plays at best only a small role in a war finance story. Primary influences shaping any war-finance strategy are: public’s support for the war effort, fear of inflation, bureaucratic capacity, and the ability to cope with a balance of payments problem.

India is fighting a war against coronavirus. Prime Minister has actively pursued the Keynesian prescription of ‘borrow’ but has shot down his other prescription which came his way as an unsolicited suggestion of increased taxation. So far, we don’t know if he is going to exercise the option of printing currency (planned inflation of stealing from the future) to finance the corona-war. But surely, the Prime Minister has already used Takhat Singh’s alternative of ‘beg’ which Keynes did not envisage. PM has established a public charitable trust under the name of ‘Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund’ (PM CARES Fund).

The fund consists entirely of voluntary contributions from individuals/ organizations and does not get any budgetary support.

(First published 30 April 2020)


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Has journalism lost it?

The way ordinary people consume and interact with media is light years removed from two decades ago. This shift has been so massive that all of us are still grappling with understanding it. We have never had a media landscape like this. There is a very vocal left-wing media machine that has proven to be every bit more effective than the mainstream media.

Now there is an emergence of a right-wing media machine, as effective as the left-wing media machine or even the mainstream media. What the emerging right-wing media machine lacks in terms of its effectiveness, it is attempting to make up for it through the social media. The general public has never been networked the way we are now. Unfortunately, however, both, the left-wing as well as the right-wing media machines, are building the sculptures of Networked Disinformation. The mainstream media is sitting outside of the arena where these ugly bouts are taking place.

Let us acknowledge that there have been mass media layoffs. Uncompromising media outfits have shuttered, leaving dozens of upright journalists without jobs. Reporters-on-rolls and editors have vacillated between feeling extremely energized and extremely demoralized in such circumstances. Unstable job environments have become the norm, and unfortunately, those who have stayed back in journalism have confused average for acceptable. There are now “full-time freelance” positions in journalism.

Editorial teams are shrinking, workers are forced to accept lower rates (due to increase in competition), and they are bearing the psychological impact of repeated layoffs as they navigate financial insecurity.

Journalists and reporters are constantly in a state of stress and scarcity; they are constantly working too much and fearing that it is still too little. They don’t know how they are going to pay rent, and if they do, they can never be sure the checks are going to come in on time. Health insurance is either a luxury or a distant dream; and getting sick is not an option.

The distinctions between regular, freelance, contract and outsourced labour is increasingly porous. The press and publication houses are unionising but the unions of their employees are nearly defunct.

Is journalism a vocation, profession, business or an errand? With confusion getting compounded, the losses of talent, freedom, standards and ethics are a natural corollary.

(First published 22 April 2020)


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Isn’t this a World War?

Geo-Politics is driven by Geo-Economics. Altering Geo-economics through peacetime efforts takes 30-35 years or consistent efforts of two generations as the Japanese growth and the Chinese growth would show.

Balance of Economics can only be disrupted by Wars. Wars are won by destroying lives and livelihoods. Firepower models of 105 year old and 75 year old World Wars and even the gulf war are obsolete. The modern firepower lies in information-weaponry and bio-weaponry.

There is a school of thought which believes SARS-CoV-2, irrespective of it being a synthetic or a natural virus, is a Chinese enterprise which was nearly always known to the US. Western World, particularly the US has been at cold war with China due to its growing economic might and influence. China purchased western consumption and sold them goods produced in China. These goods were produced by deploying western capital, non-Chinese materials, non-Chinese know-how but Chinese labour. In the process, the west not only shipped its capital but also its jobs to China.

With the cold-war with China heating up, Trump started arm-twisting China. And the day arrived when China pulled the trigger of its information-weaponry and bio-weaponry.

China meticulously exported the SARS-CoV-2 and fed the stories of untold-death from Wuhan and created a world-wide panic bringing nearly every country on their knees.

Since misery sells, media amplified the fictional stories of human suffering in Wuhan from where; the non-Chinese had already fled, lot of them carrying SARS-CoV-2 as accompanied baggage. Trying to make money out of the misery that it had inflicted, China tried selling Tests and PPEs. The disinformation machinery from China provided a noise-byte to the non-ruling politicians to coax their democratic Governments into more testing, more economic disruptions and more social alienation. The fact remains that testing only identifies the prevalence of infection and not the likelihood of death. The real mortality from SARS-CoV-2 is lower than even the recent pandemics. Current data shows – this is a disease of the High and Upper Middle Income, rich Western countries have higher Case Fatality Rate, and Western countries have followed intensive testing in few regions, not across the country.

China has managed to immobilise most national economies and their drivers of growth – oil, power, education, travel and tourism, informal economies, banking, social affinity, cultures and values. In one stroke, China has managed to put EU on ventilator. Not only did it start the World War, China has also achieved the strategic objectives in waging the war and to that extent it has won the war. Like any party in war, China will also have collateral economic damages and costs to bear. But the damage and costs which China has succeeded in inflicting on rest of the world is many fold.

The efforts are now on to exit the war zone and close the war. The irony is that in departure from the past neither China has to announce a unilateral cease fire nor does need to sit and negotiate across the table with anyone to end this war.

Of course, China will face the retaliation and retribution for its war crimes the intensity of which would be determined by the strength and resolve of the losers of this war. Meanwhile China would diplomatically buy or win the support from some of the losers.


Am I just hallucinating as an effect of lock-down and imagining a war where there is none or is it that I just lived and survived through a war without even noticing it? If it be the latter, than I am an eye-witness who saw nothing of the war,  a war which shall go down in human history as a world war of smallest duration, with minimum casualties but maximum ruin.


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Pakistan-China-India: Three to Tango

While many of the world leaders continue to disregard Pakistan’s evident violation of human rights in Baluchistan, they always seemed extremely quick to criticize India for actually defending the safety of its para military forces from the stone-pelting citizens. After lukewarm reaction of the international community to unprovoked attack at Pulwama by the Pakistan-sponsored non-state terrorists, India had no choice but to carry out its own strikes against the terror camps and infrastructure that were threatening her people.

Unfortunately, some news outlets and politicians have been attempting to create a narrative to lead people to believe that the threats from Pakistan’s leaders are just talk. Pakistan’s leaders, however, continue to demonstrate their intentions not only with verbal threats, but with covert actions as well. Unprovoked firing across the border, arms-drop using UVAs, using proxies, such as LeT, JeM and Hizbul to attack India viciously, is a daily routine. Pakistan appears to have India solidly in its cross-hairs.

Apparently in a rush to provide cover for Pakistan, some world leaders have also, for years, been attempting to tell the public that there is a difference between “moderate” Pakistani politicians and the hardliners. Unfortunately, that distinction is make-believe. Pakistan’s current Prime Minister, Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, like the earlier Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto has given an open call for Jihad against India. Pakistani politicians across the political spectrum (hardliners or “moderates”) all agree on one thing: destroy India.

Amending or revoking an article in her constitution, is a sovereign right of India and a completely internal exercise of public choice. The World should value the efforts made by India for cutting back on discriminatory laws and espousing equality. This is of interest not only for India but for the region, too.

Malaysia’s or Turkey’s or China’s relations with India are not rational enough and need to be repaired. Instead of blindly adopting a “Catechism of Unswerving Support” towards Pakistan, they should open the door to cooperation with India. Just like in domestic politics, no one is a permanent foe or a friend in international relations. No one fights wars for others anymore. National-interest shapes bilateral and multi-lateral relations among nations.

China has strategic interest and investments in Pakistan but China has bigger economic interests in India in terms of markets. Being aware of Pakistan’s “India Doctrine,” China would keep Pakistan in good humour as a potential ally and a power base in managing India-China relations. It is unlikely however that China would pick up any serious battles with India just to appease Pakistan.

The official Chinese media is saying that the 2nd informal summit of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s with Prime Minister Narendra Modi moved beyond the historical and present differences to forge a cooperative partnership. That would be the right direction to pursue for both the sides.


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A Salute to Indian Scientists

Bharateeya (Indian) scientists have successfully carried out the test of an anti-satellite missile by bringing down one of its satellites in the low earth orbit 300 kilometres from the Earth’s surface. This test was to “safeguard” India’s own “space assets.”

This brings India in the small group of nations that claim to have anti-satellite weapons. Only the United States, China and Russia have demonstrated this capability till now. Israel is also said to possess this capability, though it has not carried out a test so far.

Hindus have forever been accused of having too much of resilience because hundreds of invasions and over thousand years of foreign power and influence could not wipe-off Hindutva – the Hindustani way of life – Bharateeyataa. This claim tells us less about the strength of Bharat (India) and more about the anti-Hindutva schema and anti-Bharat agenda of the social, political and religious ideologues of all shades and calibre.

History has proven that Bharteeyas (Hindus, Indians) need more power and influence than other groups to secure their safety. During the last 1300 years, Hindus have had the morality on their side, but they have lacked the power and influence to save millions of their brothers and sisters from systematic repression, tyranny, despotism and murder.

The truth is that if India were to put down her defence and security there would be no more India. If Pakistan were to put down their arms there would be no more war.

When Bharteeya power and influence are used in the cause of peace and justice – as it is today – in the latter half of the second decade of the 21st century – there is nothing to be ashamed of. It should be a source of pride for every Bharteeya (children of Bharat Mata), every Hindu (resident of Hindustan), and every Indian (national of India).

Bharat must never be afraid of using her well-earned power and influence for the safety and welfare of Bharat.


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With Deterrents Turning Ineffective, India Should Now Blast Pakistan on Human Rights

After the Pulwama attack on 14 February, we in India have been attempting to deal with Pakistan’s use of terror as an instrument in its India-directed policy via few quick actions:

  • One preventive air-strike on one terror infrastructure of Jaish-e-Mohammad in Pakistan; with threats for more similar action;
  • Increasing Engagement and exchange of information with other countries to get their positive reception for India’s concerns and encourage them to exert diplomatic pressure on the Pakistani regime;
  • Withdrawing of the erstwhile MFN status and imposing 200 percent tariffs on imports and goods originating from Pakistan;
  • Announcing India’s intent of withdrawing from a water-distribution treaty signed on September 19, 1960 between India and Pakistan called The Indus Water Treaty;


  • Getting Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar designated as a global terrorist under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council (UNSC).

It appears that the Pakistan regimes – elected and the “deep state” – have not been impressed. Their air force attacked us within 30 hours after the air-strikes albeit without causing any valuable damage. Despite India embarking on a non-military deterrent policy, no credible change in the behaviour of Pakistan is seen. On the contrary, in a game of one-up-man-ship, India stands violated by an air-attack from Pakistan which was repulsed but not retaliated to by India. Possibly, India has been put under international diplomatic pressure to avoid any retaliation. The world is supposedly telling us that India and Pakistan are just on “… a very, very delicate balance.” But is there really a “delicate balance?”

Indian politicians have thought they should always signal good-will gestures and release their POWs and terrorists. The civil society has been able to influence the government to adopt parallel track two diplomacy of people-to-people contact. The Indian activists have hammered and slammed the Indian army for human rights concerns in Kashmir so much that India while negotiating on various matters with Pakistan is unable to talk about appalling human rights in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and North West Pakistan.

Except for preventing a formal war since 1971, Indian policy towards Pakistan has been an abysmal failure. This policy has not prevented the 1999 Kargil. A destitute state has held one of the biggest democratic nation with a powerful economic, military and technological base, at bay, while getting away with, among other things, terror attacks at regular intervals all over India, causing embarrassment by repeatedly raising Kashmir at multilateral fora, acquiring nuclear bombs and missiles directed against India, running drugs and counterfeit Indian currency networks, supporting separatists in Kashmir, enabling infiltration and smuggling across borders, and so on. Given the imbalance in power, something is clearly wrong with India’s policy towards Pakistan. It is time for a different approach.

Let us be willing to consider the possibility that the deterrence employed by India does not seem to deter Pakistan so far.  So where do we go from here?

The next move should be to see that Pakistan is hit hard on human rights. The best way to get what we want from Pakistan, whether it is renouncing terror as policy or anything else, is to reverse decades of Indian thinking and raise the issue of human rights loudly and incessantly. The same is true with regard to Pakistan’s guardian and ally in the UNSC, the People’s Republic of China.

Pakistan Army and the ISI know how inhumane and autocratic their “deep state” rule has been – and if we do not talk forcefully about POK, Baluchistan and NWFP, these masters of Pak games will think we are afraid of the possibility of Pakistan echoing and amplifying the voices of a few purposively-funded, pseudo-activists of India about human rights in Kashmir and elsewhere.

Many politicians and policy activists argue for the old approach, that we must build friendly relations. They advocate using people-to-people connect for getting the support of Pakistani people for mobilising public opinion against the regime. Unfortunately, there is more than five decades of history to show that Pakistani regime is impervious to such friendly overtures and the Pakistani people afraid of the regime.

The deep state actors in Pakistan have run a militant state and do not respond in the same ways as leaders of democratic societies. Because democracies are inherently legitimate, their presidents and prime ministers often fail to realize the vulnerability resulting from the illegitimacy, and insecurity of despots such as the ISI.

In the illegitimacy and insecurity of the “deep state” has to become India’s power.  Perhaps the worst aspect of not addressing the human rights concerns in Pakistan is that it feeds into the untruths of the regime to justify its nuclear weapons programme, missiles programme and defence expenditure. The regime justifies diverting resources from its citizens to fund these programmes with the lie that India is their enemy and wants to destroy them.

The way to get what we want from Pakistan is to expose that lie and thereby separate the military regime from the elected regime, its officials and supporters, which is extremely weak. When we do not talk about our vision for a better future for Pakistani people, we inadvertently bolster regimes propaganda.

We cannot be polite or friendly with Pakistan regime. It is time to let Pakistan regime know that India no longer cares about how Pakistan feels or even about maintaining a friendly relationship with Pakistani people. That posture, a radical departure from past Indian thinking, is both more consistent with Indian objectives and a step toward a policy that Pakistan will respect.


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Will China review its “love-affair” with Pakistan?

A single seamless socio-economic and cultural entity before 1947, once divided into Pakistan and India, the two divisions have now completely drifted apart. Despite being neighbours, India and Pakistan are among the least integrated nations in the world. Because of their unending mutual hostility, South Asia too has become the least integrated region in the world. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is in a coma. Sadly, the most populous region in the world has also remained home to the largest number of poor people in the world.

Some 10-12 years back, we had the opportunity to discuss with the then Dean of LUMS (Lahore University of Management Sciences) Prof Zahoor Hassan, with whom we had signed an inter-institutional cooperation agreement, about mutually beneficial economic cooperation between Pakistan and India. He thought that an intense Indo-phobia among many of the influential people in Pakistan stood in the way, who called India, the enemy nation. He also referred to similar picture of Pakistan, the enemy nation, in the minds of influential people in India. Clearly, feeling of “national pride” is stronger than any feeling of brotherhood on both the sides.

After Pakistan’s unprovoked attacks on India, carried out by the Dirty-tricks-wings – JeM and LeT – of the Army and Inter-Services Intelligence Agency of Pakistan, were ignored by the international community, India had no choice but to carry out its own strikes against the JeM training bases and infrastructure that were threatening her. Many of the world leaders had disregarded Pakistan’s evident intentions to bleed and harm India for a long time.

Unfortunately, some news outlets and Indian politicians have been attempting to create a narrative to lead people to believe that the Pakistani threats are over exaggerated by India for internal political purposes. Pakistan establishment, however, continues to demonstrate their intentions not only with their denials, tacit support to militants as well as refusal to act upon India’s complaints. Since last 30 years or so, Pakistan has been shelling and firing across the LOC into India, and have also used proxies, such as LeT and JeM, to attack India viciously. Pakistan appears to have India solidly in its cross-hairs.

Apparently in a rush to provide cover for Pakistan, some Western countries have also, for years, been attempting to tell the public that there is a difference between “moderate” Pakistani politicians and the “army” hardliners and that the politicians are helpless before the army. Unfortunately, that distinction is make-believe and most of such countries are realising their folly in such an assumption.

China, of course, has become a new factor influencing India’s negative attitude towards Pakistan, both among policy-makers and the common people. China should value the efforts made by India for stability in the region. This is of interest not only for India but for China, too. China can become a part of the solution, rather than being perceived as a part of the India-Pakistan problem. A new ray of hope came on Monday 01 April when China claimed that “positive progress” has been made on designating Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar as a ‘global terrorist’ by the UN. China’s relations with India are improving yet have not become rational enough that, instead of siding with Pakistan, China would open the door to strategic cooperation with India.


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Pakistan Is Trying To Exhaust the Indian Political Will To Fight On To Total Victory

Every war has two visible and direct costs – lives lost and money spent. There are several indirect and collateral costs some of which are to be incurred and amortised over long periods of time.

Lives could be of civilians or soldiers. Lives could be lost at the boarders or inside the country. Money spent could be in terms of running costs of operations, depletion and loss of military and civilian assets and infrastructures, replacement costs, disbursal of immediate and long-term compensation and so on. Indirect and collateral costs are immediate or deferred over short, medium or long-term and may include loss of opportunity, productivity, rehabilitation, renewal and reinforcements, diplomatic costs paid by the country, political costs paid by ruling parties, social and psychological costs paid by citizens and so on.

Relations between India and Pakistan have been defined by the violent partition of British India in 1947, the Kashmir conflict and the numerous military conflicts fought between the two nations. Consequently, their relationship has been plagued by hostility and suspicion. According to a 2017 BBC World Service poll, only 5% of Indians view Pakistan’s influence positively, with 85% expressing a negative view, while 11% of Pakistanis view India’s influence positively, with 62% expressing a negative view.

Pakistan is at War with India since 1947 whose scale and scope has been swinging like a pendulum between extremes of hostility and bonhomie. Pakistan recognises the odds against them. They don’t expect to defeat India in a full scale war. The Pak doctrine of a thousand cuts must be seen in the light of the available alternatives before it since its defeat and dismemberment in 1971 which was the biggest national economic suffocation and humiliation suffered by Pakistan at the hands of India.

The doctrine of a thousand cuts emerged out of Pakistan’s drive for national glory and economic security via the conquest of the support of the Islamic world, China, the US and the belief of Pakistan’s rulers that they could check India’s bid for a regional dominance via foreign aid and military deployments. As Pakistanis sought to free themselves from their diplomatic dependence on the United States, the Americans sought to use that dependence to contain imperial ambitions of Russia, China and the Islamic countries in the region.

Given the size of economy, India is able to afford the monetary costs of the ongoing war with Pakistan but it is unaffordable for Pakistan. The cost of lives is where the actual Paki-game is being played. Loss of lives away from the civilian areas does not result into as much of collateral costs of political opinion, public opinion, social and psychological costs as against the costs which the loss of lives amidst civilian milieu result into. Thus, simply put, Pak tries to generate a spectre of loss of lives in non-military zones which cannot be created by Pakistani men in uniform. Pakistan has therefore created specialised regular combat troops to execute such battles and similes who do not wear a regular uniform. Some of these operations are at best projected to have been out-sourced or franchised. India mistakenly calls them terrorists.

A dispassionate look at the events of the last few days would establish the point. India attacked the so called terrorist-training establishment but Pak Military retaliated. If terrorists were free agents, there was no reason for Pak to retaliate using regular military assets.

The retaliatory action of Pakistan is actually an act of unprovoked aggression on Indian military establishment and a war on India. This was immediate. In such immediate reaction, the assumption was that time was working against Pakistan – i.e., the longer Pakistan waited to retaliate against India, the dimmer its prospects for success. This assumption was grimly realistic.

Pakistan had little chance of preventing further strikes from India and India’s great military superiority would eventually bury Pakistan. The global diplomatic opinion developing in favour of India drove the Pakistanis into the logic of preventive attack: given inevitability of more strikes by India and Pakistan’s feeble military power relative to India’s, Pakistani leaders reasoned, better attack now than later. If Pakistan had any chance of fighting a military battle with India to some kind of successful conclusion, it had to bring military operations to a head as soon as possible. Short-war Pakistan was going to pick a fight with a long-war India.

India has not yet reacted to the Pakistani military aggression and invasion. Wing Commander Abhinandan has been returned as a POW.  By swiftly seizing the opportunity to retaliate to Indian air-strikes, Pakistan has forced India into a murderous, location-by-location slog that could eventually exhaust India’s political will to fight on to total victory.

Pakistan has tried to raise the blood and treasure costs of the war beyond India’s willingness to pay. The Pak theory of victory amounts to the hope that India would judge the cost of defeating Pakistan to be too heavy, too disproportionate to the worth of the interests at stake.

How India deals with these developments will shape the future of Indo-Pak war for a long time. India needs to craft her strategy very quickly, circumspectly and brilliantly.


This follows an earlier posting on 15 February 2019, titled “Pakistan is at war with India: Pulwama, Uri or Mumbai are tactical offensives” which can be found at https://www.facebook.com/ProfMukulGupta/posts/704635659930365.


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