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0 What os going on? India army

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  • 28-10-2020
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There are few examples in the world today where, as in the case of India and Pakistan, two armies have been in an antagonistic relationship for a very long time. The rivalry between the United States and the USSR, or the very different rivalry between India and China, has not been of the same character.

This is not the case for the two Koreas either, regardless of the hopes placed by Seoul in the "sunshine policy" (diplomatic normalization policy), since South Korea, which nevertheless maintains, like North Korea, an army very numerous, has largely subcontracted its defense, welcoming very strong American troops on its soil.

When it comes to India and Pakistan, we are indeed in a very special situation, a direct legacy of the partition of 1947, when the British Indian Empire packed up. The partition was bloody, and very quickly the question of Kashmir led to the confrontation between the two new states which, failing to normalize their relations durably, equipped themselves with considerable armies: Pakistan, to face India. , and this one, in a vaster horizon, not to know again the humiliating defeat suffered by China in 1962. Today, in terms of manpower, the Indian army is the third in the world (just ahead of North Korea), and the Pakistani army the seventh (just behind South Korea). In terms of budget (subject to caution or interpretation), India is ninth, Pakistan, thirty-second, a differential that grows with the rise of India. Another decisive parameter, formalized by the tests of May 1998, these two antagonistic armies are also, in part, nuclearized. Finally, no other world configuration brings together two nuclear states with a long tradition of tensions, and having known four open conflicts (1948, 1965, 1971, 1999) in about fifty years.

Beyond the strategic game, however important it may be, it is necessary to underline the decisive place occupied by the national project in the conception of the armed forces of the two countries, despite the structural differences that have become in the dialectic between army and nation which animates each of them. We know the Pakistani joke: “India (like many others) is a nation with an army. Pakistan (like a few others) is an army that has a nation. More seriously, the contrast is striking between the two countries. The Indian military is fully under the authority of civil power, including in its operating procedures or in debates over equipment needs. In this regard, she sometimes complains (or former senior officers not bound by confidentiality do it for her) about the difficulties of dialogue with the civilian authorities, including within the Ministry of Defense. However, independent India has never known the shadow of a coup threat, and it has never seen former military personnel come to power. Let us remember that the struggle for independence was not built on armed movements which would then have founded a one-party or dominant party regime closely linked to the new army.

The Pakistani army, on the contrary, is a state within a state. It is in command either directly, when the chiefs of staff seize power, or indirectly: when civilians govern, the army retains the upper hand on regional policy issues (vis-à-vis the India and Afghanistan in the first instance), on nuclear power, and on strategic issues in general. She does not hesitate to influence the political game behind the scenes. It is also a considerable economic force. It penetrates the bureaucracy, and constitutes a privileged environment at the heart of power.

How to explain this difference, when the two armies emerged from the same British colonial mold?
Four types of parameters contribute to it: historical, sociological, political, strategic. Historically, the partition of the British Empire, and therefore the creation of Pakistan, were wanted mainly by Muslim elites established in North India, where they were in the minority, while Pakistan, by definition, was built in areas where Muslims were in the majority. In present-day Pakistan (the old West Pakistan of 1947), dominated, and still largely dominate, societies structured around large landowners in Punjab and Sindh, and around tribal chiefs in the border province of Northwest and Balochistan. A breeding ground not conducive to democratic flowering, especially since there have been no land reforms. With the exception of the North-West Frontier Province, where Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Pashtun leader influenced by Gandhi's ideas) stood out, the influence of the anti-colonial movement as led by the Congress party was weak: yet it was he who in India was the crucible of mass democratic participation, enshrined in 1950 as part of a Constitution still in place today. Conversely, the disappearance in 1948 of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the Pakistani "father of the nation", and the extreme fragility of the civilian regime that followed (seven Prime Ministers in eleven years) resulted in 1958 in the first blow. Military state, that of General (then Marshal) Ayub Khan. From 1947 to 2004, Pakistan had four active generals as heads of state: it was under military rule 28 out of 57 years, which does not always mean under extreme dictatorship. The history of strained relations with India, in Kashmir as early as 1947; the increase in bilateral disputes of all kinds; the construction of national identity in opposition to India defined as Hindu (in reality it has almost as many Muslims as Pakistan itself) and as a power threatening not only the integrity of the territory (India has helped in 1971 East Pakistan seceded to become Bangladesh) but the very existence of Pakistan; all of this served the army, which made a significant contribution to building these representations. An army that presents itself as the only solid institution of the country, and as the guarantor of the supreme interests and the survival of the nation, by highlighting the weaknesses and incapacities of civilian governments.

8However, relations between civilians and soldiers are complex. On the one hand, it was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a civilian politician, who did everything to challenge the victory of the Bengalis of East Pakistan during the general elections of 1970, and to urge General Yayha Khan to launch a military repression that turned into massacre (genocide, the Bangladeshis say) before secession prevails. It was also he who had pushed Marshal Ayub Khan to launch the short war against India in 1965. On the other hand, if the legitimacy of the military is sometimes accepted during coups d'état ("We do not look at who is the firefighter when the house is on fire, ”an intellectual told me, in Islamabad on the day General Musharraf took power), usually it does not last long. In 1969, faced with his growing unpopularity, Ayub Khan had to give way, to another general it is true. The latter, Yayha Khan, had to leave after the loss of Bangladesh. Benazir Bhutto's electoral victory in 1988 was seen as a triumph of parliamentarism against the dictatorship of General Zia, who died a few months earlier. As for General Musharraf, who governs without having ever imposed martial law, he has certainly succeeded in rallying part of the political forces, but without curbing a multifaceted opposition.

India, as we know, is made up of ethnic groups that are very different in language. Does the Indian army mix the recruits? Are the federated states maintaining the troops in place? Are there specific recruiting areas in the Indian army?
Before British colonization, the princes had mainly local forces, while eventually engaging mercenary groups. In the course of a conquest that was made piecemeal and piecemeal, the British, in the 18th and 19th centuries, raised or restructured regiments - let's say ethnic for short - united by language, many of which apparently remain. in place. But beware of the pitfalls of the nomenclature! Thus the Punjab Regiment was in reality created in South India and was called for a time the Madras Native Infantry, before welcoming in 1951 four battalions from the former princely states of Punjab. Another example is the Naga Regiment, the most recent of the Indian army, owes its title to its ethnic origins - the Nagas of North East India - but these now make up only 50% of its troops. The ethnolinguistic displays inherited from the past - the Marathi light infantry, the Rajput regiment, the Assam regiment, the Madras regiment, among many others - may indicate original predominance, but, with some exceptions, no longer correspond to Homogeneous “ethnic blocks”, and no longer necessarily have their base in their region of origin. In fact, as early as 1949, independent India wanted to put an end to purely "ethnic" regiments, but did not quite succeed: the Sikh and Gorkha regiments in particular remain homogeneous, but they are now more the exception than the rule.

Even though specific groups have strong military traditions, such as the Sikhs of Punjab, the Rajputs of Rajasthan, and the notorious Gorkhas of Nepal, the military is seen - and sees itself - as an instrument of national integration. all aspects: languages, religions, castes. On this last level, it is true that it has long welcomed recruits from all castes, even from very low castes, as evidenced by the existence of a Mahar regiment: an untouchable caste from Maharashtra, already enlisted in the regiments of Emperor Shivaji in the 17th century, then incorporated by the British into the Bombay Presidency Army. Between the two wars the request of the mahars to have "their" regiment was granted, under the influence of Ambedkar, a mahar whose father was a soldier, which enabled him, grants helping, to carry out studies which led him to 'in Columbia, before opposing Gandhi on the best strategy of emancipation of the untouchables and playing a key role in the drafting of the Indian Constitution.
Its dimensions and pluralities also allow India to play with ethnic, even religious variations of its army, in order to face, in certain cases, internal problems or the problems of its immediate periphery. I will take two examples, taken from the 1980s. When the Punjab insurgency turns out badly, and Indira Gandhi opts for a military intervention against the Golden Temple of Amritsar, holy place of the Sikhs where the insurgents were entrenched , the staff called on troops from much of the south of the country. The intervention will also create a stir within the Sikh regiments. In Sri Lanka, when the Indian army intervened in 1987 as a "peacekeeping force", Indian Tamil battalions were present. But when India emerges from its role of mediator between government forces and insurgents to try to reduce the Tamil Tigers, and when it gets bogged down in this fight, troops from North India will be involved, before the 1990 withdrawal. .

And the warrior castes?
The concept deserves comment. It is rooted on the one hand in a very ancient Hindu tradition, the famous “laws of Manou” setting out the principles of social structuring in four major orders - the varnas - of which the second, under the Brahmins, was that of the kshatriyas, castes. warriors and princely. The British, always fond of classifications and hierarchies, took up this concept under the title of "martial races", putting forward two emblematic groups, the Sikhs (not Hindus stricto sensu) and the Rajputs: both often bearing the title of Singh (lion) in their name. They are found in large numbers in elite regiments, and in spectacular parades on national holidays. We can add to this the kind of foreign legion that are the Gorkhas, who even today, including in the British army, have a reputation as exceptional combatants. But again, the Indian army can no longer be seen exclusively from this angle, as broad recruitment policies, the mixed composition of most regiments and a stated desire to be a melting pot representing the nation are being implemented. .

The Pakistani case is somewhat different, since the supremacy of the Punjabis (more than 50% of the national population) is even more asserted in the army, with a notable minority of Pathans (the name given in Pakistan to the Pashtuns, whose warrior traditions are known). A few districts, by tradition, feed the Pakistani army in a considerable way, the recruitment poles being maintained from generation to generation, in particular along the great road which goes from the Khyber pass to the plain of the Ganges. Very few Sindhis on the other hand and very few Baluchis.

Why are the Sindhis so poorly represented?
We must obviously be wary of the determinism of culturalist interpretations which would refer to an opposition between "martial races" and what certain polemical writings internal to the region call "effeminate races". Let us recall rather that after the Anglo-Sikh and Anglo-Afghan wars of the 18th and 19th centuries, the British in this part of the Empire mainly recruited their troops in Punjab, and that it is also in Punjab, in the areas newly irrigated by the development of the Indus basin, that they offered lands to the troops returned to civilian life. Sindhis leaving their villages can seek employment in Karachi, the economic capital of Pakistan, rather than military recruitment. The diaspora of Sindhi traders also offers opportunities.

An excellent connoisseur of both Indian and Pakistani armies, Stephen Cohen, noted how Pakistani military psychology, forged in structural opposition to India, has long underestimated Indian troops and overestimated Pakistani troops, considering that quality warrior of the Moslem troops compensated for the advantage of the number of the Indian troops mainly Hindu. The open conflicts after 1947 never confirmed this point of view, which on the one hand resulted from a biased reading of history highlighting the exploits of Muslim invaders entering North India with Mahmoud de Ghazni here a millennium, and which, on the other hand, sought to consolidate the image of a Muslim Pakistan able to stand up to a neighbor - an enemy - much more populated.

Are there Muslim troops in India?
There is no specifically Muslim regiment, not even the light infantry of Jammu and Kashmir, and Muslims (13% of the population) are under-represented in the Indian forces. This is not due to a desire to rule them out, since there are Muslims in many regiments. If we count senior Muslim officers, however, extremely rare are those who reach the highest military posts, even if France welcomed in the 1980s an Indian Muslim ambassador, Idris Latif, who had been commander-in-chief of the army. air.
And the Bengalis, for example?
Their case is interesting. Aside from the anachronistic image of the Bengal Lancers, the Bengalis tend to have little reputation for being warlike. We always come up against stereotypes: Bengali intellectuals, Gujarati traders ... In reality, when we consult the lists of chiefs of staff or those of senior officers, we come across many Bengali names - including names of Bengali Brahmins. .

Did contacts remain important with the British?
The British heritage remains visible in India as in Pakistan - it is only to have lunch in the messes of officers to be convinced of it -, but this influence, which plays in part on the military training, should not mask deeper realities. The Indian policy of non-alignment implemented by Nehru in the 1950s, then the policy of rapprochement with Moscow led by Indira Gandhi in the 1970s, greatly changed things. In the field of armaments, the Soviet contribution was decisive. Even today, an essential part of Indian armaments comes from Russia, although India has always bought arms everywhere, including from France.

On the western side, the focal point is no longer Great Britain. It is the United States. With the end of the Cold War, India rethought its relationship with Washington. The nuclear tests of 1998, which led to American sanctions, also led to a strategic dialogue unparalleled in the past, crowned by the visit of Bill Clinton, celebrating in India, in 2000, "the concert of democracies". The Hindu nationalists of the Bharatiya Janata Party, in power in Delhi from 1998 to 2004, pushed further towards this rapprochement under the Bush administration. By wishing to redefine the rules of international security in the post-Soviet context (missile defense, regional theaters, the fight against terrorism), Bush seemed to open up new perspectives for New Delhi. Points of divergence remain, however. What status should India (and Pakistan) be granted when the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, extended in 1995 - and to be reviewed in 2005 - excludes them from the list of the five "legitimately" nuclearized states? And after 2001 India urged Washington to be less sympathetic towards a Pakistan having changed line on the Taliban to join the "war on terrorism", but still supporting, in Kashmir, the extremist armed groups. waging jihad from Pakistani bases: what Delhi has long called a "proxy war" waged by Islamabad through "cross-border terrorism". The role of the United States today is twofold. On a diplomatico-strategic level, Washington, like the entire international community, intervenes discreetly to promote dialogue between India and Pakistan, particularly after the long alert of 2002 which saw the two neighbors massing a million men along their border. This dialogue finally began in January 2004, and has continued since the return to power of the Congress party four months later. On a more strictly military level, India is asking for cutting-edge equipment, in negotiations with the United States for a long time reluctant, or obtained via Israel (drones, electronic surveillance equipment for the line of control in Kashmir, missiles, etc. .).

On the Pakistani side, the relationship with the United States is even more decisive, but it arises according to specific parameters. By 1954 Pakistan had joined Western alliances (Baghdad Pact, Southeast Asia Treaty Organization). Islamabad had also quietly worked to bring the Nixon administration closer to People's China, a Washington-Islamabad-Beijing axis countering the Delhi-Moscow axis. Many senior officers passed through US military schools, and the staffs of both armies knew each other well. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in late 1979 placed Pakistan as a "frontline state", Washington's essential ally in support of the Afghan mujahideen. Then, under General Zia ul Haq, in power from 1977 to 1988, an essential phase of regional history began: the growing intervention of Islamabad, with American blessing, in Afghan affairs. This activism continued after Zia and after the Soviet defeat, with the support given to the Taliban to put an end to the internal wars between mujahideen, while in parallel Islamabad brought in jihad fighters in Kashmir, insurgent against India since 1989. But as soon as the departure of the Soviets from Afghanistan, Washington imposed sanctions against its ally of yesterday, Pakistan, accused of carrying out a clandestine nuclear program, a program on which the American administration had turned a blind eye throughout. 1980s. No one has forgotten this episode in Pakistan, and if General Musharraf nevertheless decided, in the aftermath of September 11, to change lines by letting go of the Taliban and once again making Pakistan a "front line state". "Ally with the United States in the war against terrorism and against Al Qaida, it is indeed in the name of the" superior interests of the nation ", in order to avoid being possibly placed on the" axis of evil "of set by the neoconservatives, and then be caught between the United States and neighboring India.

All in all, and beyond their differences, India and Pakistan maintain an ambiguous relationship with the United States. The two countries seek maximum rapprochement with the American hyperpower, among other things for military reasons, but without fully trusting Washington, or without endorsing its unilateralism: neither Delhi nor Islamabad have sent troops to Iraq.


Given the stakes of the Indian Ocean, are we seeing the development of the Indian navy?

Absolutely. It should be remembered here that the Mughal Empire, brilliant but without a navy worthy of the name, collapsed under the blows of a maritime power, Great Britain; more generally, India, rich enough in the 17th century to attract the first great modern capitalism structured around the various East India Companies, completely missed the decisive technoeconomic revolution launched by the great discoveries and the rise of western fleets. Great Britain, a colonial power, appropriated the seas, and founded regiments in India only to expand its land conquests. The navy therefore long remained the poor relation of the Indian forces: even today, the navy counts 53,000 men, against 110,000 for the air force, and more than one million for the army.

The first is India's desire to assert itself more and more clearly as the major regional power in the Indian Ocean. We have seen it again by what the Indian press defined as "tsunami diplomacy", when India refused for itself international aid after the disaster of December 26, 2004, while sending aid. emergency, with military logistics, in Sumatra, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and even Thailand. The northern Indian Ocean is an essential component of what New Delhi defines as its "extended neighborhood," an area that also encompasses the Middle East, Central Asia and Southeast Asia. The northern Indian Ocean is doubly strategic for New Delhi. It controls, between the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Malacca, the oil route which supplies Japan and partly China. There are also competing forces: the Pakistani navy, of course, but also Chinese interests. China has observation stations in the Burmese islands, and is building a new port in Pakistan, at Gwadar, at the gateway to the Persian Gulf. It is therefore understandable why India recently created a new combined arms command in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands: to watch over both the Strait of Malacca and the movements of Chinese ships in the Indian Ocean.

Beyond its extended neighborhood, India looks at the entire Indian Ocean: it is a stakeholder in the Association of Indian Ocean Riparian States, launched in 1997 with, among others, South Africa. South and Australia. The association, which excluded Pakistan, suffered greatly when Australia imposed sanctions on India after the 1998 nuclear tests, but it could find new momentum. India has also been conducting research in Antarctica since 1981. It has just launched a new survey campaign there. Finally, the Indian Navy is increasing joint exercises with American forces as well as those from countries bordering Southeast Asia.

The second parameter that will give increased weight to the navy is nuclear weapons. Indian nuclear doctrine, formulated in 1999 as a draft, but largely endorsed since, speaks well, in the medium term, of a land-air-sea triad. For India, as for all aspirants to power who want to equip themselves with their ambitions, the ultimate strike force is that of nuclear missile submarines. India does not yet have one, but the effort it is making in favor of its defense budget (nearly 20% increase expected for 2004-2005) will push it to aim for this objective. The purchase of an aircraft carrier from the Russians, responsible for its refurbishment, also testifies to the new weight attributed to the navy.

Is there a rivalry in the Indian officer corps between the navy and the army? If so, are there traces of sociological differences, or even, as in Latin America, of different political traditions?

While a handful of retired generals have been able to enter political life - as many have created centers of strategic analysis, and Admiral Ramdas is pushing for Indo-Pakistani rapprochement - the active armed forces are truly apolitical. The criterion of differentiation between weapons is not there. In the rivalries between corps, matter much more of possible divergences of doctrine and, of course, of budgetary competitions. These rivalries between arms, which affect the Air Force as much as other weapons, are for many in the difficulties to implement an interministerial recommendation of 2000, which recommended the creation, unprecedented in India, of a post of chief of defense staff who would be both the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the privileged adviser to the government in military matters. The nuclearization of the three weapons also poses a problem: while the ultimate decision to fire rests with the Prime Minister, security and efficiency also require that a commander of the strategic combined arms be the operator. Of course, the holders of such positions are called upon to rotate between the three weapons.

Pakistan has long resolved these issues for the benefit of the army, whose preeminence is clear, including in the game of political responsibilities. The problem is different there: to maintain the weight of the army on national life, and when a soldier is in power today, to ensure that the army supports him. It is for this dual purpose that President-General Musharraf has just decided, despite his promises and against the parliamentary opposition, to keep his two hats as Head of State and Chief of Defense Staff. . At the very least, the recent creation of a National Security Council, where the heads of the three arms sit ex officio near the main ministers, aims to ensure that in the future the heads of the three arms can be heard by the civilian rulers in a framework now institutionalized, and which goes beyond military questions alone.

Sociologically, beyond traditions, the real difference, in India but also in Pakistan, now comes from the degree of technological sophistication of the equipment. The armies, professional in both countries, have no problems recruiting men in troops or non-commissioned officers. But in the context of economic liberalization and development, in India of advanced technologies, the Indian armies are beginning to have difficulty recruiting officers: with equal scientific competence, the new private sector of Indian firms or multinationals pays much better . Conversely, the very privileged status of the Pakistani military retains a marked appeal to the office.

Do Indian civilians and the Indian military care about the rise of China?

Yes, but the rhetoric is quite nuanced today. On the eve of the Indian nuclear tests, the defense minister defined China as "potential enemy number one". The coalition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had just come to power, and the opposition led by the Congress party had cried scandal and diplomatic amateurism. In fact, Congress had been working since the mid-1980s on a rapprochement with China. The Minister of Defense then backtracked but, the day after the nuclear tests, Prime Minister AB Vajpayee wrote to President Clinton an awkward letter in which he justifies his decision by saying that "a power of the North" contributes to degrade the scenario. regional security, by deploying a strategy of encircling India (presence in Tibet, support in Pakistan, breakthroughs in Burma). Things have turned out well since then, and Vajpayee’s visit to China in 2003 demonstrated a reaffirmed desire to significantly improve bilateral relations, including in the military field. The mechanism for discussing border disputes is humming, economic exchanges are intensifying, and one even finds in the last annual report of the Indian Ministry of Defense this astonishing sentence, which could have been published in Beijing: "China pursues a policy of rapid military modernization by drawing the lessons of recent wars launched by the United States, while seeking peaceful relations with its neighbors, in order to consolidate itself economically and politically, and to build what the Chinese call for a “Total National Force”. "

However, no Indian official, civilian or military, can underestimate the advance taken by China over India, both economically (a GNP twice as strong) and militarily, growth also providing, of course, the financial means for the modernization of the armed forces. It is also remembered that China has played a significant role in supporting Pakistan’s nuclear program. India's nuclear program is not directed at Pakistan alone - in a way, by nuclearising in turn, Pakistan benefits from the weak-to-strong deterrent effect, which offsets India's superiority in force. conventional. India's nuclear ambition immediately fits into a wider field. It is supposed to raise the country's status internationally and in Asia, especially against China. In the absence of parity for the moment inaccessible, at least India is making its voice heard, and the Chinese discourse towards it has in fact evolved. Two reasons contribute to this, in addition to the Indian defense effort: on the one hand, the country's economic take-off, whose growth rate, lower than the Chinese rate, is no less considerable; on the other hand, American hegemony. The United States is too powerful for Beijing or New Delhi to shy away from Washington, but India and China see far ahead, and share a number of common interests. Between confrontation, competition and cooperation, India chooses, vis-à-vis China, the cooperation-competition binomial. It does not intend to be an instrument of Washington to counter China in the medium term, but takes advantage of the current configurations to strengthen its status, quite natural, as a regional power and as a pole of stability on the southern facade of Asia, while waiting better.

What about the role of the Pakistani secret service?

The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), a combined arms body, is much more than a military intelligence agency. The institution changed in nature when CIA aid and Saudi money made it a key tool in Pakistani intervention in support of the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviets in the 1980s. Afghanistan victoriously finished, the ISI continued its action, in principle under the authority of the Prime Minister, in reality according to the lines of the regional strategy defined by the military. Not without internal debates in some cases on the best course to follow: during the launch of the Taliban, for example, the ISI seems rather always to bet on the militias of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whereas after September 11 Musharraf imposed the release of the Taliban on the head of ISI, sacked shortly after.

The historical role of the ISI is not to be a simple intelligence agency, but a large-scale action service, in the hands of the military (its members return to their bodies at the end of their service, a procedure which strengthens the control of agents). Beyond its possible interventions in the political game, in particular during electoral period, the ISI was above all the instrument of instrumentalisation of armed Islamism in the service of the regional strategy of Pakistan, strategy defined primarily by the military. This is particularly the case in the support given to the genuinely Kashmiri insurgents raised against New Delhi, and even more so when armed groups with established presence in Pakistan came into play from 1993: the Lashkar e Taiba, the Harkat ul Ansar and, most recently, created in 2000 under Musharraf, the Jaish e Mohammad. Of course, these groups radicalized their cause and their struggle, and it is very difficult to know to what extent the extremism of the 2000s was sharpened with the consent of the ISI and that of the upper military hierarchy. I am referring here to the dangerous extension of terrorist operations beyond the Kashmiri field alone. The attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 triggered the severe crisis of 2002 which put India and Pakistan, at least apparently, on the brink of war. As for the terrorist attacks carried out in Pakistan against foreign targets, they can hardly improve the image of the country: attacks in the diplomatic enclave of Islamabad or against Christian establishments, suicide bombing against French technicians in Karachi working on sub- Agosta sailors in 2002, execution of the American journalist Daniel Pearl ... After the turning point imposed by September 11, Musharraf brought the ISI in line on the new Afghan line, but left scope for the jihadis operating in Kashmir and their mother houses established in Pakistan: Musharraf's new anti-jihad discourse is getting them into trouble, but does not prevent them from rebuilding themselves.

Are the Pakistani soldiers today in the process of changing the dominant paradigm since the 1980s, by deciding to calm the game on the borders, in Afghanistan as in Kashmir? If it were confirmed, would this option result from a large-scale geopolitical analysis, structural in a way, or would it seek above all to counter the divide that seems to have operated within jihad organizations, the most radical elements joining the theses of Al Qaeda? these ultras are no longer on an ISI line, hence the attacks against General Musharraf himself in December 2003, followed by attacks against notables of the regime, civilians or soldiers. Of course, the two hypotheses can go hand in hand. On the other hand, I hardly believe in a large-scale plot between the military and the secret services against Musharraf, who controls the army well, but a successful attack is always possible.

Behind all this, two issues are essential, for Pakistan and for regional security as a whole. The first concerns the unprecedented operations of the entry of combatant soldiers into the tribal area of ​​Waziristan, on the border with Afghanistan. Neither the American coalition on the Afghan side, nor the Pakistani troops or services have flushed out bin Laden and his number two Al Zahawari, but it is clear that American pressure has pushed Musharraf to intensify the fight against Al Qaida in very sensitive areas , and which affect the very structure of the traditional political organization of Pashtun tribal lands. The second concerns the dialogue initiated with India, which has lasted for a year, without yet any major progress, it is true. Musharraf's room for maneuver is limited in the face of New Delhi's intransigence, which preaches the formalization of the territorial status quo in Kashmir, and thus the transformation of the Line of Control into a border. An open border, moreover, which would allow the Kashmiris on both sides to renew relations which had been interrupted for decades. Question: who can really make peace? The civilians, as Benazir Bhutto put it in his exile, or the military, who control the game? A subsidiary question: by accepting a new paradigm, which would redefine Pakistani security and relations with India in a more open-ended fashion. geo-economic advantages of a hypothetical normalization, how would the army preserve its privileges and its status, which were built on the idea that it was, in the face of the Indian threat, the rampart protecting the nation, a rampart deserving a heavy defense budget?

This is the paradox the Pakistani military faces today. Faced with the armed radical Islam that it has used for so long, its leader, President of the Republic, is now pleading for "enlightened moderation". But if the point is sincere, what role can the army play in implementing it, without sawing off the branch on which it sits? This is not only the great question of relations between Islam and the nation, but also that of the relations between the army and the civil political power, any structural change of line on Kashmir having to be accepted by the opinion and by the political class, class marginalized by the military ... We are there, seems to me he, at the heart of the questioning of the links between the army, the nation and regional geopolitics.

 


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