By Omer Aamir*
Act 1 (February 2019): India undertakes ‘non-military’ surgical strikes across the international boundary. The failure of the attack and the ensuing successful Pakistan Air Force counter strike forces the Indian Prime Minister to remark that if India had Rafale jets, the result would be different.
Act 2: (August 2020): Newly-inducted Rafale jets land in Ambala to a water-cannon reception. Indian media explodes with hype, while simultaneously covering Modi’s laying of the foundation stone at the Ayodhya Temple city in Northern India. Warmongers in the overpopulated nuclear-armed South Asian behemoth once again raise their ugly head as Ram Temple is inaugurated at the site of the demolished Babri Mosque.
It was in 1757 that Robert Clive plundered one of Mughal India’s richest province: Bengal, with the help of the treacherous Mir Jaffar. The decadent Nawab of Bengal at the time, Siraj-ud-Daula, had not felt the need for a force in the sea. His slow-moving elephant cavalry and massive amount of foot soldiers, could not take on the ‘laconic, yet ambitious’ Clive’s much smaller force consisting of Europeans and local sepoys. Clive not only had the Jagat Seths (financiers of Bengal) by his side but Mir Jaffar of Persia, an old veteran General of Aliverdi Khan (Siraj’s grandfather), had also secretly changed allegiances. He allegedly cited Siraj-ud-Daula’s bad governance as the reason for his switch.
Extrapolating the fall of Bengal to the present day, lessons must inevitably be drawn from the fall of Bengal in 1757 and preparations made to counter current Indian governments’ evil designs. The more important lesson to draw is to prevent incompetents like Siraj-ud-Daula from taking hold in the government. With a sprinkling of Siraj ud Daula’s in decision making, it will not be hard for our enemy to take advantage of our beloved nation’s Achilles heels. At present, the economy is in bad shape, and there is no fiscal space for major weapon systems acquisitions, besides those from China and those coming through from indigenous developments. However, that should not yield the current setup to resign to fate. Expedient steps such as a targeted stimulus package, lowering interest rates and efforts to reduce unemployment are the need of the hour. These measures will help revive the economy and create space for much-needed defence acquisitions.
India has acquired the latest weaponry and planes to supplement its diverse fleet of Russian, French, American, and locally-manufactured force. Moreover, the Indian Air force (IAF) has also substantiated its air defence in a deal worth over $5.5 billion for the super-advanced and one of the most lethal air defense systems in the world: the S-400. If Pakistan fails to counter these defence acquisitions at some future instance, it will be akin to Siraj ud Daula leaving the waters of Bengal undefended.
India’s Ballistic Missiles Defense (BMD) is multi-layered. Per reports that came through in January 2020, the first phase of the BMD program is now complete. Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) are waiting for the government’s approval to install the missile shield for the national capital, which is likely to take three to four years to install after approval. The two-tiered BMD System consists of the Prithvi Air Defense (PAD), which will intercept missiles atexo- atmosphericaltitudes and the Advanced Air Defense (AAD) missile for the interception at endo- atmospheric altitudes. The deployed system would consist of many launch vehicles, radars, Launch Control Centres (LCC), and the Mission Control Centre (MCC). All these are geographically distributed and connected by a secure communication network.
If the deadly Meteor and SCALP weaponry of the Rafale were not enough to ruffle feathers alongside the above mentioned BMD system in Pakistan policy-making circles; The Indian military has also expedited planes for the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA)- a 5th generation aircraft that is slated to perform flights by 2024 and become operational by 2029. $60 million have already been allocated for the research and development of this platform as the Indian defence industry seeks indigenization.
Pakistan is being dragged into an arms race, which is not of its choosing. Indian leadership has also become more emboldened, and the peace overtures are being more aggressively rejected. Moreover, the IAF’s doctrine since 2012, of operationalizing ‘surgical strikes’ has picked up steam. Also, India’s newly appointed Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and their aggressive defence minister, Rajnath Singh, have staked claim to Azad Kashmir, time and again.
Rafale, for one, will help the Indian military overcome its limitation of deep fire (while remaining within its airspace). Nonetheless, a RAND study outlined the poor training and mixed readiness state of the Indian Air Force. However, with advanced air-to-ground weaponry such as HAMMER (part of Rafale deal), the Indian Air Force will be precisely able to target objectives and people within Pakistan while remaining within its International boundary.
Presently, it is quite evident that the Indian military is engaged in aggressive military modernization. With a strengthened armoury, it will undertake human rights violations on the oppressed Kashmiris with more impunity, arousing more anger from the Pakistani state and citizenry for the sake of their Kashmiri brethren. The draconian Armed Forces Special Protection Act (AFSPA) will be more hostilely used, and the abject state of Kashmiris worsened. The first anniversary of India’s abrogation of the ‘Special Status’ accorded to the Kashmiris just passed. In the future, the eyes of the Indian establishment in connivance with their right-wing Hindu nationalist government is set on Pakistani administered parts of erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir State. National Register of Citizens Act (NRA) and Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) 2019 are further examples of actions taken by the Modi government that are specifically geared to marginalize Muslims. Looking ahead, additional steps that incite hatred from and towards the South Asian Muslims are likely to come from the Indian ultra-right-wing government. Modi, Amit Shah, and the BJP troupe are expected to undertake punitive strikes in Muslim-majority Pakistan in the future following a staged false flag action, to mobilize their Hindu appeal, whenever it is politically expedient.
According to Indian international lawyer, Rishi Gupta, the international community has placed more importance on maintaining state sovereignty and power over all parts of the state than on humanitarian and human rights issues. This raison d’etre points to the community’s unsurprising silence while the Kashmiri suffering under an autocratic regime continues unfettered. Since the revocation of Article 370, and the passing of The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019 (C.O. 272), the State of Kashmir has been on a legally tenuous standing with regards to its accession to India. Article 370 formed a key negotiation element on which the supposed instrument of accession was signed by Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir, and it has since been abrogated. Moreover, all sovereign power that-according to famous Genevan philosopher Rousseau-stems in any well-functioning democracy from the people has been lost. Instead, the deductions made from a quantitative analysis over the last decade and analysed by Rashmi Sehgal of the National University of Malaysia point toward a high demand for Kashmir’s independence amongst the Kashmiris.
According to Rashmi, a political framework that will accommodate the Kashmiris aspirations for self-determination is the present-day requirement. However, after the August 5th, 2019 steps, India is much further from giving Kashmiris their International law sanctioned right to self-determination and/or providing a political framework to do so than at any other point in history.
Moreover, India has also antagonized the Chinese dragon at its doorstep besides its engrossment in a convoluted situation regarding Kashmir since August 5th, 2019. Only an irrational leadership would have undertaken the miscalculations that the current BJP government has done. Surprisingly, the arrival of just 5 Rafale jets was portrayed by the jingoistic Indian media as if to solve all of India’s defence woes. However, the grim reality remains that India is currently in a geo-politically and geo-strategically unenvious position. The question is that whether Aliverdi Khans’ of Pakistan will take advantage and pressure their arch-nemesis through a calculated strategy across all domains, or will the indolent Siraj- ud-Daula’s reign supreme and reconcile with the status quo? If the Aliverdi Khans’ reign supreme, then they will indubitably benefit from deficiencies within India’s current Kashmir policy.
*Omer Aamir is a Researcher for Security & Legal Affairs at the Centre for Aerospace and Security Studies (CASS). He has done B.A LL.B (Hons) from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).