India: In Need of a New Pakistan Strategy
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India: In Need of a New Pakistan Strategy


The debate about what New Delhi should do next with Islamabad has become completely polarized, with both sides equally misguided.

Those who are intent on continuing the frayed peace process argue vociferously that regardless of Pakistan's actions along the Line of Control (the de facto international border in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir sometimes referred to as the LoC) last week, India can ill-afford to call it off. They contend that terminating the dialogue would play into the hands of the Pakistani military establishment and the Jihadists, neither of whom are entirely well disposed toward it. Furthermore, they argue that it is vitally important to keep Pakistan engaged to strengthen the liberal elements of its civil society.

Indian hawks, on the other hand, many of whom would be deemed to be "chicken hawks" in the American political context, insist that only swift, firm and decisive retaliation will send a dissuasive message to Islamabad.

Both arguments are flawed for a number of compelling reasons.

Those calling for continuing the dialogue do not seem to recognize that the benefits of the dialogue have been few and far between. Yes, a cease-fire of sorts was maintained over the past several years along the LoC, a more liberal visa regime was put in place late last year and Pakistan has continued to hold out the prospect of granting India Most Favored Nation (MFN) status. If these constitute the fruits of a nearly decade long peace process it must be conceded that the flame is not worth the candle. Far too much effort has been expended in attempts to assuage the concerns of a genuinely fractious and recalcitrant neighbor for very little recompense.

On the other hand those who seek harsh retaliatory measures have not done their homework either. If India launches such an attack the Pakistani military establishment will not stand by idly. In the face of such an attack Islamabad’s diplomatic corps will come out in full force and harangue India at every international forum. Already Hina Rabbani Khar, the Pakistani Foreign Minister, has publicly accused India of "war mongering." Imagine how much more heated the rhetoric will be in the event of an Indian military response.

Under these circumstances India needs to forge a wholly different strategy to deal with Pakistan. Until the day the Pakistani security establishment chooses to eschew its reliance on the use of terror as an instrument of policy India should place dialogue on the backburner, instead bolstering its military capabilities both along the international border and the LoC and concentrate on putting its domestic house in order. On the internal front it should promote economic growth, work to increase equity and address existing social cleavages. If it can successfully tackle these external and internal tasks, even though Islamabad will have nuisance value, it will be unable to fundamentally affect India’s course. The current debate in India, though heated, is mostly pointless.

Sumit Ganguly is the Director of the Center on American and Global Security at Indiana University, Bloomington and is a Senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.

April 27, 2013 at 12:30

Great points Girish!

Europe will be the first continent to be overwhelmed by Islam (look at the trend there), Asia seems to be the next (If India and China continue to spat on their border issue and don't pay enough attention to Afhanistan after 2014, things will quickly get worse). The Americans will laugh but they will see how bad this world becomes one day.

January 22, 2013 at 03:39

@ Ashurenaspiral,

There is the catch ……… the Frankenstein of Islamic terrorism has been created by the British and the Americans ….  let them have some fun too …… why should India make the sacrifice ….. ??  ……….. India has seen the trap carefully laid by the white men ….. and India has refused to take the bait …… India has many options up its sleeve ……  !!  


January 22, 2013 at 03:28

@ Faiz,

The author is right ……. he means a percentage of GDP ( usually 2.5 to 4.5%) to be spent on bolstering the military ……. more the economic growth, more is the GDP,  and therefore more the defence budget…..   a nation's economy is defended by its military , India is no exception ………… what is so hard to understand that ……..?

China has been doing that for past 30 years, and it is still a developing country …… so can India ……… !!

January 20, 2013 at 15:25

The author contradicts himself: he wants India to bolster its military and at the same time promote economic growth. Developing countries cannot afford the luxury of doing the two opposite things at the same time. India should strengthen pro-peace sections of population at home and help Pakistan in doing the same on the other side of the border. War-mongers, on both sides, need to be isolated.

January 20, 2013 at 15:03

Girish…what you said! is total reality and You talked on solid ground! but for some people it will sound "Islamophobia"…So what are we waiting for" Attack Pakistan and remove it from, face of the earth, why not we pay a little price in shape of human lives 100 to 200 million but granteed we will eleminate an entire rogue state of 200 million people….No more terrorism…How is that?

January 19, 2013 at 00:53

India"s Cold Start Strategery is still prob the only real deal -  a really fast blitz to invade, seize and hang on to great bits of Land of the Pure before foreign peace mongers queer the mix with cease fires and non profit jawflapping, making Pakistan scream for a Peace Deal

“The goal of this limited war doctrine is to establish the capacity to launch a retaliatory conventional strike against Pakistan that would inflict significant harm on the Pakistan Army before the international community could intercede, and at the same time, pursue narrow enough aims to deny Islamabad a justification to escalate the clash to the nuclear level."

January 18, 2013 at 21:36

The British and the Americans have an unstated but obvious policy of strategically balancing India, by providing large economic and military support to Pakistan, their Major non-NATO ally.  Therefore, for India, there is no easy option available with Pakistan in the short to medium term …… India must be patient and prepared for a long haul ….. another fifty or hundred years if necessary.

1. The author is right,  the so called improvement on trade is " the flame that is not worth the candle".

2. Pakistan's apparent change of mind towards India is tactical at best. Pakistan is on a tight spot now …. and simply buying time with India.

3.  The British and American support will maintain Pakistan's war fighting capability.   However this may change in the long run,  with the decline of the British and American economy in the years ahead.


January 18, 2013 at 13:24

You do what is Right and Required…rest leave to future.

January 18, 2013 at 07:58

The author, for whom I have great regard has tried to analyse the two extremes of the nature of response that India has been engaging in. On one hand he states that not much has been achieved by the dialogue. On the other hand he cautions India against retaliation. If India were to keep mum, as it has been doing in the past one decade since Kargil in 1999, all that India has got is terror and more violence sponsored by Islamabad. Pakistan unfortunately does not seem to appreciate the language of civilised nations and peace overtures are seen as a sign of weakness. In these circumstances, taken into account the public opinion in India, the government has been left with no alternative but to resort to military means to force Pakistan to back off.

January 18, 2013 at 05:28

Unfortunately US has lost in this Afghan war and Obama is now only want a face saving quick exit (To me killing Osama last year was part of this game plan only, otherwise he would have been killed much before).
Take away are these:
*  US is negotiating with Taliban for their role in post 2014 Afghanistan and Pakistan is a broker here.
* Whatever is the negotiations, Taliban is bound to take over Afghanistan after 2014 and apply their own will (irrespective of the negotiation done with US). US will be in no position to review war in Afghanistan nor would be interested in it. (China and its downgraded economy is more important now)
* Pakistan is a winner (and looser) here at the same time. Winner because it always wanted to control Afghanistan (using Taliban)  and keep India at bay and also in collaboration with China (and also Russia under SCO) they will enjoy the resources of Afghanistan for their economic development.
It is looser as terrorism in Pakistan has grown to such a great extent that in coming years Pakistan itself would be partially govern by Taliban and to some extent, there will be practically difficult to distinguish if Pak Army/ISI and Taliban are same or different. It only means that Pakistan will go into deeper extremism and return of democracy is near impossible now.
* Immediate biggest looser will be India as after securing Afghanistan, Pak Army and ISI will now again revive their proxy war in Kashmir (it means more and more terrorist against in India, and in Particular Kashmir) This has already begin in last 10 days
* Long term biggest losers will be India, China, entire central Asia, Russia as very strong Taliban (with Nuclear bombs in the form of radicalized Pak Army, ISI and population) will work for their ultimate plan to fight enemies of Islam and non Muslims and establish the law of Allah.
My Fantasy:
Arab know that they have a say into this world as they have oil. Due to factors like oil depletion  ( in next 30 years), massive oil production by US, renewable energy etc, relevance of Arab (kingdom) is diminishing fast. In next 50 years, without oil, Arab will be good for nothing for this world. They neither have their own technology nor market what they will have is sand, lots of sand.
the day Arab is not relevant, civil war will happen there and kingdom will be removed and democratic establishment will be placed. (this process has already started in Arab world)
To avoid this frightening situation, Arab has an ultimate weapon, weapon of Islam. Islamist is working on concept called citizenship by religion and not by borders. All Muslims are one (irrespective of which country they belongs). According to this concept, Islamic forces are merging all Muslims together throughout the world and slowly working to make existing political maps of this world irrelevant. Once this is done, you guys know here is Meca Madina, yes its in Arab the home of all Islamic decision making body.
Arab can rule this world if it consolidate all Muslims into one ideology and can prove that all muslims are one and have common interest. That day, Arab will ask Muslims to boycott their respective constitutions and only follow Sharia (which will be governed by Arab using fatwas)
In case of any damage done to Arab (Islamic icon), Muslims of the respective attacking countries (and entire world) will stand against their own governments in the name of Islam.
This has already started in Western countries in small capacity. Also to be noted Islam is the fastest growing religion in this world. By 2050, it would be the biggest religion with their foot print in all nations in this world.

January 18, 2013 at 05:24

Lets understand this fact, Pakistan is controlled by Army and ISI and will continue be so. Army is already a self sufficient established power who can manipulate public opnions, run many industires and traditionally (non defenece) instirutions. 

Establishing Demoratic goverment is only a method of avoiding backlesh from international community, otherwise everything is decided by Army in Pakistan (even the date next coup).

Hostility against India is a bead butter for Army and ISI and also it help to keep all Pakistani as one unit as otherwise are all fighting with each other on the name of religion, regionlism etc.

Fact is, there is no real peace happening between India and Pakistan as it doesnt suites the interest of Army/ISI. All existing peace progress is by their dumpy civilian goverment which iteself in danger of its own survivial.

After 2014, Pakistan Army/ISI will revive terrorism in Kashmir. Only option with India is no wage a covert war (just like ISI is waging) 

just like ISI has a madate to bleed India with thousand cuts, lets apply the same to Pakistan (with taking international community into confidence, particaully USA as they have major role in neglecting terrorsim against India by Pakistan for thier own interests in Afganistan)

Pakistan would be able to handle covert attack by India as they are already veneragle inside their country due to many fiction fighting with each other. This way ISI will have to put on hold thier proxy war with India.

And real war with India is not an option for Pakistan now (to get Kashmir).


January 17, 2013 at 20:55

The author seems to have written an article just for the h*#k of it. His solution to India right now is one of the most ridiculous and laughable ones out there!


Q: What do you do if your neighbour fires along the border and decapitates one of your soldiers?

A: You neither cut off all relations nor should you conduct a massive retaliatory strike. You should instead improve economic growth in the country.  duh?!!

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