The Filter Coffee

Foreign policy, strategic affairs, defense and governance

Where do we go from here?

The people of India have spoken.  A clear mandate for the UPA government has been given.  While this blogger doesn’t consider the verdict to be optimal (considering UPA’s unforgivable lapses in security and foreign affairs), the decisiveness of the victory is pleasing because it allows a less fractious Central government to go about its business.  The mandate against the BJP is very clear — the people don’t want any part of their divisive politics.  A campaign that was overshadowed by the venom spewing bigotry of Varun Gandhi was only bound for failure.  Uttar Pradesh has told Mayawati what it thinks of her self glorifying statues in Lucknow.   And Prakash Karat stands amidst the shattered pieces of his non-ideology.

Where does India go from here?  The Filter Coffee has repeatedly drawn attention to the dilapidated state of our local law enforcement forces, and national and border defense mechanisms.  They need addressing immediately.  When Chidambaram took over as Home Minister, he instituted a few changes, come cosmetic, some concrete.

The Congress must stop pretending that it is tied at the hip to the Unlawful Activities Prevention (Amendment) Act and work with the Opposition to construct a meaningful anti-terror law for the nation.  Our local law enforcement agencies need money, equipment and training.  Our national forces face severe shortages in equipment, which can only be addressed by correcting India’s defense procurement mechanism.  The shackles need to be loosened from our intelligence agencies.

India faces two immediate threats with regard to terrorism, from the Maoists and Jihadi groups.  With regard to external Jihadi threats, there are some elements that India can control and some that it can’t.  However, the Maoist menace is well within India’s realm and decisive action is needed to eliminate this plague that has consumed a third of India.

On the foreign affairs side, the Subcontinent is on fire.  Sri Lanka has found itself an effective counterweight to India in China, and its dismissal of India’s pleas was the most telling aspect of this relationship as war against the LTTE drew to a close.  Similarly, India lost the plot in Nepal during the UPA administration and as tensions continue to rise between the army and the Chinese backed Maoist government, India has a great opportunity to play the honest broker and demonstrate to that nation that India wants peace and stability in Nepal.

The United States is blowing a sigh of relief that the month long elections in India are at an end.  Obama’s immediate concern is to get India to focus on the Af-Pak issue.  The repeated calls for India to reduce troop levels along the western border are as absurd as they are misplaced and the UPA would do well not to wilt under American pressure as they have so often done in the past.

With Pakistan, India must continue to use every tool at its disposal to pressure that country to dismantle not just “terror” infrastructure, but specifically the Punjabi-terror outfits that target India.  The Pakistanis must be pressed to ensure that those responsible for 26/11 are brought to justice.  Pakistan’s “investigation”, as farcical as it was, is now a casualty of all the attention to the existential threat that country faces today.  Above all, the UPA must impress upon Islamabad that for India to show any interest in rekindling the “peace process”, there needs to be very credible action from Pakistan on both dismantling terror infrastructure armed at India, and bringing to justice those that were responsible for 26/11.

The mandate for the Congress is conclusive.  Manmohan Singh can either show the country that he can act convincingly to address the challenges that face us, as he did in 1991, or he can falter and stumble from one embarrassing embroilment to another as he has done over the past five years.  The ball is in his court.  What’s it going to be, Mr. Prime Minister?

Filed under: 2009 Indian General Elections, Af-Pak, Barack Obama, Foreign Policy, India, Politics in India, Sri Lanka, Terrorism, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“People give the Indian army a lot of leeway…”

More pearls of wisdom from the Writer Formerly Known As Sane, Arundhati Roy.  She recently hopped across the border to Pakistan to really sink her fangs into the country she calls home.  Speaking at the Karachi Press Club, she talks about the Taliban, the ongoing operation in Swat, Siachen, Indian elections, and the RSS, among other things.  True to her form, Arundhati talks at a tangent, jumping from one unrelated topic to the next.

What makes people like her and Praful Bidwai particularly dangerous isn’t the fact that they speak out against the institution.  It’s that they speak out by distorting facts and drawing parallels between issues that have no logical correlation to support their agendas.  Don’t let them tell you they don’t have an agenda. They do. Everyone does.  Here’s Arundhati at her prattling best:

Each day (Siachen glacier)  is being filled with ice axes, old boots, tents and so on. Meanwhile, that battlefield is melting. Siachen glacier is about half its size now. It’s not melting because the Indian and Pakistani soldiers are on it. But it’s because people somewhere on the other side of the world are leading a good life….in countries that call themselves democracies that believe in human rights and free speech. Their economies depend on selling weapons to both of us.

Each day, apparently, the glacier is being filled with “old boots”; I’m not even sure what she’s talking about here. Her concern clearly couldn’t be environmental, since the “substance” behind the drivel appears to be to apportion blame to the US (aka “democracies that believe in human rights and free speech”) for selling weapons to “both of us” with which the two above-fault former colonial nations fight wars they are conned into waging by the conniving West.  Only problem here is that India didn’t really receive any weapons from the US that it used to fight Pakistan in Siachen.  A convenient falsehood to support her anti-US agenda, certainly, and no different from the mindset of the Pakistani establishment that affixes blame on everyone but itself for the situation it finds itself in.  But wait, there’s more:

The RSS has infiltrated everything to a great extent..The RSS has infiltrated the (Indian) army as much as various kinds of Wahhabism or other kinds of religious ideology have infiltrated the ISI or the armed forces in Pakistan.

Clearly, she’s taking issue with Lt. Col. Purohit and his ilk in re the Malegaon attacks.  But the act of one man, as deplorable as it was, can hardly be equated to the fundamentalist indoctrination of an entire army over the course of 62 years that led it to slaughter 3 million civilians because they belonged to different ethnic and religious persuasions.  Apart from Purohit, what other examples does Arundhati Roy have of an RSS “infiltration” into the army? To be clear, the Indian army is battling infiltration.  But it isn’t from the RSS.  An inconvenient truth that Roy chooses to ignore.

Arundhati continues:

The Indian army is quite a sacred cow especially on TV and Bollywood.I think it is a sacred cow. People are willing to give them a lot of leeway.

Forgive me, but the armed forces of a developing nation that chooses to mind its own business and not stick its nose into political affairs deserves all the credit it gets.  The Indian army isn’t perfect. No army is.  Sure, the media chooses to turn a blind eye to the army’s conduct in Kashmir and Sri Lanka.  But the fact that India has had a virtually unblemished record in democracy since independence (a singular rarity in the developing world) is enough proof that this is an army unlike any other, and if it does get any leeway, it is well deserved.

Arundhati Roy is successful in the sense that her utter ignorance compels people like me to respond and set right the things that this malingering cretin masks with her eloquence.  The fact that she can string a couple of sentences together in English is often mistaken by India’s elite and the Western media as indicative of her mastery over subjects she has no experience in.  I’ve taken issue with Roy before as I take issue with her today.  Abinav Kumar, in his response to Roy’s much published diatribe right after the 26/11 terrorist attacks, said that Arundhati Roy suffered from a failure of the imagination.  I beg to differ.  Arundhati Roy suffers from a failure of the mind.

Filed under: 26/11, Defense Forces of India, India, Indian Army, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Terrorism, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Calls for ceasefire must cease

As the Sri Lankan army inches closer to a decisive military victory against the remaining remnants of the Tamil Tigers, the international community has been vocal in its call for a ceasefire in view of the thousands of Tamil civilians caught in the middle of the conflict.  The tone from politicians in Tamil Nadu has been particularly shrill, and unabashedly in support of Prabhakaran and the LTTE.  Political parties in Tamil Nadu have been demanding Indian pressure on Lanka to declare a unilateral ceasefire.  The government in New Delhi would do well not to accede to their demands.

Terrorism is a scourge that has plagued the Subcontinent for decades.  However, victories against terrorist forces have been few and far between with governments neither having the gumption, nor the ability to achieve decisive victory in the face of asymmetric warfare.  However, Sri Lanka today stands at the cusp of a famous victory against self-appointed champions of the Tamil cause.  The Rajapakse government will not squander the momentum gained over the course of three years to please Indian politicians in the throws of a general election or to placate the countless effete world bodies that have neither the right to demand nor the jurisdiction to enforce the ceasefire.

India must recognize that its role in the conflict should be not during the military conflict, but after the demise of the LTTE.  Normalcy in Sri Lanka’s civil war can only be fully brought about through political reconciliation between Lankan Tamils and the Lankan government.  Sri Lanka has a unique opportunity today to not only end militancy, but also address the root causes that led to conflict, not on the battlefield, but through political engagement.

To that end, India must encourage, prod, assist, the Rajapakse government to take the initiative to address the aspirations of the Tamil civilians.  Allowing international aid workers to provide assistance to the thousands of displaced Tamil civilians will be a pressing matter, and one requiring immediate attention.  But this can only be possible through a swift military victory against the LTTE.  By calling for a ceasefire, India and the international community will leave the Lankan government in a disadvantageous position vis-a-vis a millitant organization known for its ability to rise from the ashes, and injudiciously prolong a war that has already taken the lives of tens of thousands of Sinhalese and Tamil civilians.

Filed under: Karunanidhi, LTTE, Prabhakaran, Sri Lanka, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Vaiko, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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