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India will have to be ready for covert Sino-Pak threat

Last updated on: October 19, 2012 16:58 IST

India will have to be ready for covert Sino-Pak threat

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Air Marshal (Retd) Satish Inamdar

There has been discussion and debate recently that India will have to be prepared for a collusive threat from China and Pakistan and measures have been suggested to face such an eventuality.

As regards China and Pakistan, there cannot be any 'ifs'' and 'buts' about their long-term designs and agenda. Those are rooted in the very concepts of Islam and the birth of Pakistan (as Pakistan and a few others see it) on the one hand, and the 'Middle Kingdom' (as China nurtures it) -- leaving little room for analysis, speculation, guess work or prognosis by anyone, at any level who has even a modicum of a sense of history.

It does not need a Metternich, Nietzsche, Talleyrand or a Huntington to tell us that both these concepts (and hence these two countries) deep down (and axiomatically!) negate peaceful and equitable co-existence, in real terms, with the non-Islamic and the non-Chinese world.

An inexorable conflict -- ideological, theological, economic and armed or some combination of these -- either today, tomorrow or the day after appears to be inherent here. You can try to wish it away if you are a romanticist, but you can never rule it out if you are a realist!

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India will have to be ready for covert Sino-Pak threat

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If these two countries choose not to spell it out in as many words or not to show it by overt action or utterance, it may serve us well to be reminded that 'sheep's clothing' has proverbially been deceptive; wolves may even successfully alter their voices, mute their utterances or hide their cuspids for a time, but it is for the others never to be taken in and to always remain vigilant and alive to an ugly reality, however well muted, camouflaged or sugar coated!

Intelligent and balanced cognisance of enemy's military build-up on both fronts and in the hinterland is a continuous process, duly accompanied by constantly updating the nation's military insurance.

That insurance comes in the shape of a rapid, credible and measurable Indian military capability, both conventional and nuclear. Having said that, the point to note here is that India does not have to aspire to match China and Pakistan militarily, particularly the former, dreaming to decisively win a classic two-front war!

That's not going to happen, for two reasons! On one level, India will never have the necessary military resources to do that; on another, given China's huge current and projected military modernisation and expansion plans, a democratic, pluralistic India can think of spending those kinds of astronomical amounts on armaments only to the utter detriment of her pressing socio-economic goals and infrastructure priorities, something far less difficult for China to think of and do.

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Image: Reuters


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The point is, given the rapidly changing dynamics of warfare as also of a world order in flux, given the increasing capacity of the Indian manufacturing and service sectors and the huge and growing domestic market in India and their combined importance to the economies of United States, European Union, Russia, Japan and South Korea, a classic '1962' is most unlikely to either happen or be allowed to happen.

An isolated Nathu La (1967) or Sumdrong Chu/ Wangdung (1986-87) is, of course, not ruled out, but India is now very well placed, both militarily and diplomatically, to winningly handle, contain and localise such flare-ups, coolly and competently.

Whether she is also so well placed politically and administratively, is a question that perhaps still begs a clear-cut answer.

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Image: Reuters


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Also, it is worth reminding ourselves that the Armed Forces of a nation are not there only to fight a war and win it in the first place; they are there essentially to 'deter' a possible enemy by developing a military sinew and a military will which is both visible and credible in all respects.

If such a sinew and will are backed by the proven physical readiness of the military machine to be launched at short notice, by a political system which has the demonstrated stomach and resolve to respond and retaliate decisively and unhesitatingly, in order to make any misadventure by the enemy unaffordable to it, then we will have acquired what it takes to be respected and to be wary of, regionally, if not internationally.

What India has to always have is a very carefully structured and tailored 4-dimensional military capability in place -- augmentable by switching forces from the East to the West and vice versa, at short notice, with the required strategic mobility -- that can inflict unacceptable punishment on the enemy locally, at each stage and point of an escalatory and graduated response.

If that is achieved, there would be little need for India to struggle to be markedly superior to (or even be equal to) -- man for man, gun for gun, ship for ship and aircraft for aircraft--- the overall size and might of the China-Pakistan military combine, wanting to inflict a comprehensive military defeat, specially on China.


Image: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao talks to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters

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Source: ANI