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Commentary
Major General (retd) Ashok K Mehta

Beyond the lull   - August 1, 2002
'The army is keeping its powder dry. It knows that the leadership is unlikely to give it the go-ahead to cross the LoC. But it is banking on Musharraf to do something for the balloon to go up.'

A kingdom under siege   - June 27, 2002
'Nepal is facing its worst ever politico-security-economic crisis. Democracy has failed to take root while the monarchy, which took a harsh beating last year, is on the rebound.'

Can infiltration be checked?   - June 10, 2002
'Given the terrain, vagaries of weather and Pakistan's conditional acceptance, if at all, the idea is neither practical nor feasible.'

The death squads of J&K   - May 20, 2002
'The fidayeen have to be intercepted before they reach their target. This requires intelligence of a very high order which is a tall order for the Indian security system.'

Op Parakram: the balance shifts   - May 8, 2002
'Parakram was not for fighting. War was never a viable option, but given the political and geo-strategic dynamics, it can't be ruled out now.'

Why is the IAF out of sync?   - April 11, 2002
'It is not clear why the government is permitting the IAF to hold the country's security to ransom.'

Beware the Maoists of Nepal   - April 5, 2002
'Whether India likes it or not, Nepal's internal conflict will soon spill over and become Delhi's baby.'

Money, money everywhere, not a note to spend   - March 22, 2002
'The Indian catalogue of building defence capability is as erratic as it is risky. And now a new problem has cropped up: the failure to use funds.'

Wiping the mess   - March 13, 2002
'To defend the country against external aggression is the army's primary mission. It cannot be expected to quell internal disturbances when the police and paramilitary forces fail abysmally in their primary role.'

Time is on the side of the Maoists   - February 18, 2002
'Usually when their cadres are killed, female Maoists behead the dead to remove any traces that may enable possible reprisals against their families.'

The real threat   - February 13, 2002
'The fresh induction of trained terrorists could raise the ante in Jammu & Kashmir. The rehabilitation of hard-core Taliban, Al Qaeda and other foreign fighters is a threat not only for India but also others in the region.'

War or peace?   - January 18, 2002
'It is almost certain that the full-scale deployment of the military at appropriate levels of readiness will remain in place till Pakistan abandons its failed policy on jihad.'

More bark than bite   - December 31, 2001
'India is not spoiling for a fight. It is assiduously creating a politico-military-diplomatic environment through which Pakistan is forced to act against its own terrorist groups. The battle cry is to create the scenario the West most fears.'

Two very different wars   - December 26, 2001
'After the latest attack on the heart and soul of Indian democracy, it will be extremely difficult for India not to respond. It may not be an eye for an eye, but with key state elections around the corner, India cannot be seen to be turning the other cheek.'

The war in Nepal   - December 12, 2001
'It is a pity the generals in Nepal, many of whom are honorary generals of the Indian Army, have failed to learn any lessons from the Indian experience. They have made the classical Indian mistake of doing too little too late.'

Taleban will not forget their reverses   - November 29, 2001
'Angry at being let down by Pakistan they will create unrest along the Durand Line and inside Pakistan. And Musharraf will do everything in his command to deflect them towards J&K.'

The common enemy   - November 24, 2001
'After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the British chief of defence staff had remarked, "we have no enemy now. We're looking for one." In OBL and his successors, the West has met its match.'

The Taleban will be no pushover   - October 8, 2001
'The US can't afford not to win the chase for Laden because as Kissinger once said, if the guerrilla does not lose, he wins; if security forces do not win they lose.'

The lessons from Afghanistan   - September 23, 2001
'The US strategy is to make Pakistan fight the dirty war. It will commit its troops as a last resort for a short and swift commando type operation to pluck Laden out and roll back terrorist camps.'

After Kosovo, will Afghanistan be next?   - September 15, 2001
'Islamic movements thrive in the US and are liberally funded by Saudi Arabia. There are at least 10,000 known Hamas supporters in Chicago while several hundred backers of the Kashmir Front are gaining strength.'

The CDS controversy deepens   - August 30, 2001
'Having bombed the proposed appointment of the CDS, no one is surprised at the last ditch stand by the IAF to stall, if not stop, the execution of the defence restructuring agenda.'

Jaswant's journey may herald new phase in Indo-Nepal ties   - August 14, 2001
'Singh's visit comes at a time when Nepal is at a crossroad. He carries no agenda except good wishes for the leaders and people of Nepal who can count on India's co-operation in rooting in democracy and rooting out the Maoist menace.'

The Maoists now smell blood   - June 11, 2001
'Intrigue-ridden Kathmandu, numbed by the palace massacre, looks helpless against the Maoists in the absence of any politico-military response to deal with them. This is puzzling.'

The Greek tragedy in Nepal   - June 8, 2001
'Eliminating the royal family and King Birendra is a blow to the evolution of constitutional democracy in Nepal. The timing could not have come at a worse moment.'

'Gen Musharraf Sir, this is against your national interest'   - May 25, 2001
'Pakistan's jehad for J&K can fuel the secessionist zeal in the non-Punjabi provinces. Fighting a jehad for three million Kashmiris at the cost of 140 million Pakistanis is certainly not good strategy.'

'India jumped the gun and had to eat its words in endorsing the BMD'   - May 16, 2001
'India's double-quick time appreciation of the Bush Missile Defence has pay offs. What is the price tag for this?'

Gurkhas vs British paymasters   - May 3, 2001
'While the Nepalese government is reluctant to push the Brits on Gurkha disparity in the army, it is keen to have the problem resolved amicably before it becomes a political football.'

Made in India CDS   - April 27, 2001
The post of CDS is the first tentative step towards the integration of the armed forces. It is ridiculous to suggest that it will create discord among the services, further disharmony between the services and defence ministry, and threaten civilian control over the military.'

The Bhutanese dilemma   - March 30, 2001
Despite limitations on the Indian Army's counterinsurgency operations in Assam due to armed camps in Bhutan, India is not pushing Bhutan into military action. And the present stalemate of no action is preferred by Bhutan.'

The smile returns on Kumaratunga's face   - March 1, 2001
'Kumaratunga may go down in history as the one who succeeded in taming the Tigers and also reviving a terminally-ill SAARC.'

Kargil to Kutch  - February 19, 2001
'Although the Army has a penchant for statistics, in Kutch the Great Indian Soldier is not being measured in figures. He has become a byword in every Kutch household.'

The mantras for peace   - February 7, 2001
'The dominant expression by the visiting generals of Pakistan was for re-engagement -- breaking out of what they called a "zero-dialogue situation" to meaningful engagement on Kashmir.'

Why Nepal loves to hate India   - January 1, 2001
'In Nepal, being anti-India is seen as being nationalistic among intellectuals, the establishment and sometimes also fashionable. India provides the necessary political space for them to get it off their chest.'

Trouble in the world's last Shangrila   - December 28, 2000
'Since insurgency started in Nepal, no government has been able to determine whether it is simply a law and order problem, or more seriously, the alienation of the poor and underprivileged due to the dismal performance of the mainstream political parties.'

'A cease-fire does not mean letting one's guard down'   - December 21, 2000
'Rifleman Tejbir Singh has the difficult task of ensuring that while he is not the first to shoot, he is also not the second to do so. Opening fire during a cease-fire is like opening a can of worms.'

'India's national interest had been made coterminus with maritime security''   - December 4, 2000
'All my ships can absorb a nuclear strike -- other than a direct hit -- and transit through areas of nuclear fallout and be able to operate under nuclear warfighting conditions.' Admiral Sushil Kumar tells Major General Ashok K Mehta (retd) on Navy Day.

The structure of the national security council is full of holes   - November 30, 2000
'Unfortunately the entire debate on national security has got confined to the post of the national security advisor whereas the real need is for the review of the old and new national security structures, posts and processes.'

The IAF is living in a period of tragic-comedy   - November 17, 2000
'The biggest snag in building airpower to bolster India's security has been inept and erratic decisionmaking. Thanks to the whims and fancies of air chiefs and the role of the government.'

The fall of Badakshan must be prevented at all costs   - November 10, 2000
'As India needs to create strategic space for itself in Afghanistan it must, in concert with other states, do much more for Masoud than just giving medicines and blankets.'

The AJT: Waiting for Godot?   - November 1, 2000
'The Advanced Jet Trainer became the most widely reported but comatose military project in the history of the armed forces, and the episode is just the tip of the iceberg in non-decision making.'

The media should leave the Army alone   - October 21, 2000
'Most of the adverse comments made in the media about the chain of command, generalship and morale in the Army are hastily configured. They betray insufficient knowledge of the ethos and functioning of the Army.'

Pakistan must exercise vocal restraint as both sides live dangerously   - October 5, 2000
'It is a pity neither side has made any proposal to renew the dialogue on nuclear risk reduction. Many security experts had expected the Americans to persuade Vajpayee to at least agree on a limited dialogue on a nuclear restraint regime, assuming that Musharraf would have relented on his agenda of Kashmir or nothing.'

A na´ve decision   - September 25, 2000
'The government has displayed its naivete in opting to withdraw its entire contingent from Sierra Leone though it was only the leadership that was under a cloud. The government has stood by Jetley though the decision to withdraw forces may not go down well with the rank and file of the services.'

The LTTE, once rooted in Jaffna, will pose a serious threat to south India   - September 21, 2000
'It is in India's national interest that Jaffna peninsula does not fall into the hands of the LTTE. As a dialogue partner of the Asean Regional Forum, of which Thailand is a member, India must help Sri Lanka in forcing the closure of their Phuket base.'

Vajpayee's US visit: Concretising Indo-US ties   - August 30, 2000
'Vajpayee's visit to Washington next week is designed to concretise the growing Indo-US ties despite the imminent change of guard there. To begin with, the relations are characterised by a feel-good factor generated by the much greater sensitivity both inside and outside the US administration about India's concerns, not just about security but also on other issues like globalisation and trade.'

Testing times for Kumaratunga   - August 25, 2000
'Chandrika Kumaratunga is determined to share power with the Tamils in as equitable a manner as she will be allowed to by fellow Sinhalese. India cannot remain aloof to the political and military developments in Sri Lanka and has to be seen, even in south India, to be influencing events which are in India's national interests. And of course, in Sri Lanka's interests too.'

India discovers Israel   - July 28, 2000
'After needless prevarication, India established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992 and hasn't looked back since. Indo-Israeli cooperation is multifaceted and not simply restricted to cash and carry military hardware. Other areas being mapped out are in the political, strategic and economic fields.'

Diamonds Are Forever   - July 5, 2000
'The mess in Sierra Leone is because there are too many takers for its diamonds. Seventy per cent of the country's economy is supported by the diamond industry and most of the diamonds are smuggled out through Liberia, which plays a dominant role in the affairs of Sierra Leone.'

Jaswant Singh breaks the ice   - June 24, 2000
'Much to Sri Lanka's relief, Jaswant Singh has formally laid the ground for India's involvement in Sri Lanka's political process, even if only in a supportive role.'

The Sri Lankan crisis: India's misplaced priorities   - May 17, 2000
'Greater dishonour will come to India, the regional influencer, letting a terrorist group win the war with horrendous implications for India and Sri Lanka.'

Vietnam: Time to consolidate ties   - May 10, 2000
'The new century belongs to the Asia Pacific. India-Vietnam relations can take off only if trade and commercial interests are dovetailed into a partnership of mutual benefit.'

End the menace of terrorism   - April 7, 2000
'Markaz al Dawa, near Lahore, is the fount of jehad in J&K. If America could attack Osama Bin Laden, why can't India target Markaz al Dawa?'

Old foes, new friends   - February 14, 2000
'Believe it or not, the Soldiers Initiative for Peace between India and Pakistan, established for the first time in the history of the two nations, was publicly decrying war. And these soldiers were not old boys from pre-Partition schools going through the motions of a reunion.'

Kargil is now the most richly decorated real estate in the world   - January 29, 2000
'Never before have so many gallantry awards been conferred in such a confined space, restricted to three mountain ridges in Dras and Batalik: Tololing, Tiger Hill and Juber-Khalubar.'

'It is almost certain the SDR will not be made public'   - January 14, 2000
'The good news is that the Strategic Defence Review has been completed... Regretfully, the SDR is likely to remain an unofficial document and therefore not actionable. This is one of the several flaws of the structuring of the National Security Council.'

'Kumaratunga realises her army cannot win the war for peace'   - January 5, 2000
'The most distressing feature of this war in India's backyard is its hands-off-Sri Lanka policy. Will India do nothing were the Tigers to come close to achieving Eelam? That would send a dangerous signal to secessionists in India.'

The Indian Navy in the Next Millennium   - December 9, 1999
'The Cinderella of the armed forces is on the threshold of a new millennium. Armed with a robust conflict-prevention naval doctrine it is refurbishing its blue and brown water capabilities.'

Time to defeat the jihad from across   - November 16, 1999
'The passes will close soon and the Taliban jihadis will have to return to populated areas for refuge and succour in winter. A sustained and resolute military operation and a well-knit anti-infiltration and counterinsurgency grid alone can prevent defiant Badami Bagh type of raids in Srinagar.'

Waking the dogs of war   - October 27, 1999
'Despite the stench of RDX and other irritants arising from contiguous borders, there is now greater hope of developing equal and mutually beneficial relations between India and Nepal.'

Look out!   - October 18, 1999
'New serious internal tensions are likely in Tibet and Sinkiang provinces of China, Afghanistan, the Central Asian Republics, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. India will not escape from their ripple effect. A Maoist insurgency and other internal disorders in Nepal and a democracy movement in Bhutan are bound to spill over into India.'

India's nuclear deterrent is not country-specific   - Ocotber 4, 1999
'What is missing from the doctrine paper are the command and control mechanism, involvement of armed forces, the cost of the nuclear deterrent and linkages with ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons. Yet, this is the first positive short step in the long march to the nuclear capability goal.'

A new high in Indo-Nepal relations   - September 25, 1999
'The political transition in both countries augurs well for political stability and the resolution of outstanding issues, despite each side having its famous grouse.'

Coping with the unexpected   - August 30, 1999
'The attack on the establishment suggest the government and army were forewarned, but refused to act. Congress spokesperson Kapil Sibal, in cahoots with Brigadier Surinder Singh, is the architect of this bizarre accusation. Sibal and Singh have done a Bhagwat on the government.'

The method followed at Siachen is irrelevant in Kargil   - August 18, 1999
'The cost of defending Kargil has been erroneously estimated as Rs 4 crore a day. This has been compounded by mis-assessing the cost of Kargil as three times Siachen.'

'The Islamised Pakistan army believes Jihad is the military salvation to Kashmir'   - August 14, 1999
'Thanks to the army and ISI linkages with the Islamic fundamentalists, a new power troika consisting of these power centres is emerging. The divine A words -- America and Allah -- may rue the day they encouraged the formation of this dangerous trinity.'

The silent sentinel   - August 5, 1999
20 questions on Kargil   - July 26, 1999
The Battle of Tiger Hill   - July 7, 1999
The Battle of Tololing Ridge   - June 25, 1999
Putting the past behind   - June 21, 1999
Using a sledgehammer to swat a fly   - June 15, 1999
Operation Vijay will be long and difficult   - June 1, 1999
National security is not just the business of war   - May 21, 1999
A chasm wider than the Brahmaputra   - May 4, 1999
Bhagwat has become a political football   - April 14, 1999
Vishnu Bhagwat has done what he is best at: filing affidavits   - March 25, 1999
No action on defence reforms   - March 1, 1999
In the end Bhagwat may become a legend for the wrong reason   - February 15, 1999
A service chief who cannot uphold discipline is not fit to hold office   - January 25, 1999
Fallen in the fray   - January 11, 1999

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