Follow @southasiaanalys

NATIONAL SECURITY--POINTS TO PONDER

Note no. 70

 MILITARY THREATS TO NATIONAL SECURITY

*  Mainly from Pakistan and China.

*  Threat from Pakistan ever-existing. From China medium and long term. Not immediately. China is determined to see that the next Dalai Lama would be a man of its choice and that his selection would be under its supervision. This could lead to a ferment in Tibet after the exit of the present Dalai Lama, with a fall-out in the Tibetan Diaspora in India, West Europe and the US. This could once again hot up the Sino-Indian border. Till the Dalai Lama's succession issue is resolved, Beijing would prolong the border settlement talks in order to keep the border dispute alive for possible exploitation by it, if necessary.

*  Threat from Pakistan arises from its inferiority complex and from its paranoia and jealousy about India as well as its determination to frustrate India emerging as the paramount military and economic power of the region. Pakistani and Chinese objectives and intentions are similar, though each, while covertly co-operating with the other, would overtly follow its own modus operandi.

*  China, while openly advocating Indo-Pakistan détente, would continue to secretly arm Pakistan and add to its nuclear and missile capabilities in order to keep India confronted with the possibility of a two-front war.

*   Nuclear weapons have given us the deterrent capability vis-à-vis China and Pakistan, but, at the same time, have also added to our vulnerabilities. India has two other nuclear powers as across-the-land-border neighbours. To protect the civilian population against the dangers of a nuclear strike would be much more difficult for India than for any other nuclear power. No Government in India has paid attention to developing a dependable civil defence capability against nuclear weapons and nuclear accidents.

NON-MILITARY THREATS

*  Religious, ethnic and ideological terrorism/insurgency. Ideological terrorism manageable since it no longer has external sponsors after the collapse of communism in East Europe and after China stopped exporting its communist ideology.

*   Ethnic terrorism/insurgency has external sponsorship-- not of States, but of non-Governmental organisations functioning under the cover of human rights, charitable and humanitarian organisations. Threats to national security from these organisations would continue in the short and medium term, but manageable.

*   Terrorism by some Sikhs effectively controlled, but not yet eliminated. Danger of revival would persist so long as Pakistan continues to give shelter to Sikh extremist leaders and to train and arm them.

*   Islamic terrorism. Its threat will continue and even increase due to external support from the State of Pakistan as well as from the Islamic fundamentalist organisations of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The old Communist international has been replaced by an Islamic International, consisting of various Islamic fundamentalist organisations with roots in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Their objective vis-à-vis India: To "liberate" the Muslims of not only Kashmir, but also the rest of India from "Hindu control". They talk of two more independent homelands for the Muslims of the sub-continent--one in North India and the other in the South.

*   The need for a coherent policy to counter Pakistan's covert war. While the present Government talks of a proactive strategy, it doesn't seem to be clear in its mind about the components of this strategy. Amongst the components should be: a determination not to let Pakistan come out of its economic morass till it stops its covert war; a readiness to hurt the Pakistani State and society at a place of our choice in terrain favourable to us. In Kashmir, the terrain is not favourable to us except in the Jammu sector. To really hurt Pakistan, we have to direct our proactive strategy at its Punjab and Sindh, and particularly at Karachi. While India has a credible nuclear deterrent, it does not have a credible covert warfare deterrent. whereas Pakistan has developed its covert warfare capability over a period of nearly 20 years, with American assistance in the 1980s.

*   Pakistan-based Islamic fundamentalist organisations have been increasingly turning their attention to South India. After Tamil Nadu and Kerala, they are now focussing on Andhra Pradesh. Israeli counter-terrorism experts had been warning since 1992 of attempts to export Islamic jihadism to Tamil Nadu, but their warnings were not heeded. One understands that some Western counter-terrorism experts suspect that there has been a considerable flow of funds to the Al Ummah of Tamil Nadu and its allied organisations in Kerala from Pakistan-based Islamic jihadi groups, possibly through the Gulf and even Colombo.

*   There has never been a convincing analysis of why Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been flirting with the LTTE, despite the latter's anti-Muslim activities in Sri Lanka's Eastern Province. One possibility, not yet proved, but suggested by foreign counter-terrorism experts in the past is that in return for the ISI's assistance, the LTTE, through its supporters in Tamil Nadu, has been training the cadres of the Al Ummah and other jihadi organisations of South India and providing them with material assistance.

*   We need a separate strategy to deal with threats from the foreign-based Islamic jihadi organisations. Such a strategy should tackle prevention of illegal migrations of Muslims from Bangladesh and Pakistan, identification and deportation of past illegal migrants, the flow of foreign funds for mosques and madrasas, the scrutiny of the credentials of foreign Muslim students who are admitted to educational institutions in India etc. In the past, even counter-terrorism experts of Islamic countries such as Algeria and Egypt had expressed surprise over the ease with which students black-listed in their countries because of their association with extremist organisations managed to get admission to educational institutions in India without any background check.

*   Globalisation of the economy, of our telecommunication infrastructure through the Internet and of the printed and electronic media networks is adding to our economic strength as well as to our national security vulnerabilities. Surprisingly, in the formulation of policies relating to globalisation, national security implications have been given very little attention. Our analysts, who cite China as a model to be emulated, do not highlight the fact that China has clearly identified sensitive sectors with national security implications such as telecommunications, the Internet, defence industries, printed and electronic media etc and has been fiercely resisting Western pressure to open up these sectors to foreign participation. So has France been doing for many years. We seem to be opening up these sectors without any regard to its impact on our national security.

*   Mushrooming of NGOs and the unregulated flow of funds to them directly as well as through third countries such as Nepal.

NATIONAL SECURITY TOOLS

*   Intelligence collection and analysis. Improving, but still weak with serious gaps in coverage and monitoring. Anticipation and prevention continues to be the weakest link in our national security management. While the strengthening of the intelligence collection capability of the central organisations such as the IB, the RAW and the various military intelligence directorates has been receiving attention, equal attention has not been paid to improving the intelligence collection capabilities of the States. The Centre has to play a more proactive role in this regard.

*   Assessment and follow-up action. . Even the best of intelligence would be useless if it is not assessed promptly to identify looming threats and initiate follow-up action. This has not been given the attention it deserves. For this purpose, the National Security Council (NSC) needs a full-fledged Secretariat. In all countries with the NSC mechanism, the Secretariat is the nerve-centre and permanent watch-dog on all matters likely to affect national security. We still seem to have a miniscule Secretariat with no teeth.

*   Enforcement of physical and infrastructure security. Very weak as seen by the ease with which the jihadi suicide squads have been penetrating high security areas in Kashmir and the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen terrorists recently hijacked the Indian Airlines plane.

*   Crisis Management. Again unsatisfactory. Past crisis management drills dealt only with conventional threats such as hijacking, hostage-taking, assassinations etc. We need separate drills supervised and co-ordinated by professional experts to deal with crises involving weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical and biological) and weapons of mass disruption (hacking, injection of computer virus etc).

B.RAMAN                                                         (15-2-00)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai.E-Mail: corde@vsnl.com)

 

Category: