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USSR and US in Afghanistan

 

The story of the two superpower invasions of Afghanistan (by the US and USSR) is entirely about the parallels that ultimately obscure the obvious distinctions.

 

Even though Moscow was aware that requests for more weapons were frequently rapacious and based on greatly exaggerated numbers of Afghan personnel, the Soviet Union increased its economic and military assistance to the Mohammad Najibullah administration as it prepared to depart Afghanistan in 1988. Mikhail Gorbachev and his Politburo sought to make amends to Najibullah and his people for abandoning them to face the wrath of the American-trained, -armed, and -funded opposition because they felt sorry over the retreat.

 

Gorbachev was also aware of a certain matter of dignity. His foreign policy adviser Anatoly Chernyaev recalled in 2009 that “he said multiple times that we cannot just pull up our pants and make a dash for it, like Americans in Vietnam.”

 

After the decision was reached, it took the Soviets more than three years to go. The transfer of garrisons and military hardware involved complex procedures, with the new local owners receiving spruced-up barracks and recently tested weapons in addition to signed receipts. In his 2019 book, “The Limited Contingent,” General Boris Gromov, who oversaw the retreat, recalls how the Jalalabad garrison left their barracks:

 

The beds were tucked in neatly. There were slippers under the lockers, and even the bedside floor mats were in their proper places. The barracks were outfitted with all the tools required. The water supply functioned flawlessly.

 

The United States withdrew in 2021 with the goal of completing the withdrawal within a few months after President Joe Biden made the decision to do so. It destroyed certain equipment because it seemed more worried than the Soviets about its weapons ending up in the hands of Afghanistan’s potential new rulers. Even the things that American troops did leave behind, including keyless automobiles and trucks, were sometimes inoperable. Neither does the United States seem to believe in lengthy farewells, at least based on their surprise overnight departure from the Bagram Air Base. The Americans turned off the electricity, which cut off the water supply, and then they vanished.

 

And yet, whatever how different something may appear, it actually remains the same. Hours after the Russians left Jalalabad, the clean Soviet garrison town was pillaged, and Gromov reported that “all the more or less valuable property — televisions, audio equipment, air conditioners, furniture, even army mattresses — was sold through the city’s market booths.” The same incident occurred in Bagram shortly after the Americans left; thieves broke in and took whatever they could find of value.

 

In support of a Communist-led coup in Afghanistan, the Soviet Union invaded the country as part of a Cold War expansionist policy. After 9/11, the U.S. attempted to destroy al-Qaeda, which is maybe a more honourable justification. In less than ten years, the Soviet Union lost about 15,000 personnel, while Americans (the Pentagon and private military organisations combined) lost less than half that number over two times as long. The US, which spent an astounding $2.26 trillion on the war, can live with that; at least they managed to break al-back Qaeda and kill Osama bin Laden, even if not in Afghanistan itself. The USSR achieved nothing by entering its Afghan war; pouring resources into the conflict’s bottomless pit only hastened the end of the Communist superpower.

 

But once more, it’s challenging to concentrate on these distinctions when the parallels are even more striking. According to Gromov, “207 out of 290 districts” were under the control of the “opposition” in early 1989, a collective term for numerous Islamist organisations and self-serving warlords. Afghanistan has 421 districts, though the exact number is always changing. The Taliban are reportedly in charge of around a third of those districts and district centres. So both superpowers purposefully abandoned weak governments and a sense of impending doom in the areas these governments still ruled. When the Taliban arose as a just movement promising to put an end to warlord rivalry and took over Kabul in 1996, they hung Najibullah, who had by that time long since lost power; Afghan officials who worked with the U.S. may certainly suffer the same fate if they do not depart.

 

And in all instances, Pakistan was crucial in foiling the superpowers’ attempts to restrain Islamist militancy. As long as Pakistan offers the Taliban protection, safety, training, equipment, and funding, the battle against the Taliban will be impossible to win. Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation with the fifth-largest population in the world, is impossible for us to defeat.

 

The accords on Afghan national reconciliation, which formed the basis for the Soviet withdrawal, were violated in 1989 by Pakistan. The Afghan rebels had outposts in Pakistan and recruited Afghans in nearby refugee camps, including fighters who would later join the Taliban. Like the U.S. today, the Soviet Union was unprepared to confront Pakistan militarily, so the U.S. and its Western allies helped enable the flow of weapons and money into the conflict zones from the neighbouring nation.

 

In other words, no matter your morals, no matter how much time you spend or how many soldiers you lose, no matter whether you’re on the winning or losing side in geopolitical battles, what you’ll leave behind in Afghanistan will be scenes of looting, a weak regime that depends too much on your support and is unlikely to last for very long, tough local fighters who feel justified for years of adversity and gloating Pakistani generals across the border. Another constant was the country’s thriving opium trade, which neither the Soviets nor the Americans were able to stifle.

 

As much as the Soviets of the 1980s and the Americans of the first two decades of this century differ from one another, both stepped into Afghanistan with too little planning and too much arrogance and confidence — and knew from the start that they couldn’t stay. This persisting situation has less to do with the stubborn magic of the place than it does with the straightforward fact that. Both parties were confident in their greater military prowess and moral superiority. Both discovered evidence that some people accepted what they brought—each their distinct brand of secular progressivism—and believed this indicated that those ideals might spread. However, neither could last forever because colonisation is no longer acceptable, and neither Gorbachev nor Joe Biden was willing to discuss the idea. Given the high human and financial costs, neither of them has found Afghanistan to be worthwhile.

 

But just like the several Afghan insurgent groups that came before them, the Taliban saw their entire purpose and significance in remaining there forever. Local fighters still believe they are defending their nation and way of life in 2021 as they did in 1989. The Taliban can be very persuasive in this regard. You can outlive superpowers if you’re not going anywhere, regardless of what occurs, the cost, or the length of time you must pay. As Afghanistan’s example demonstrates, attachment to a location and a way of life is a potent constant that generates additional constants.

 

Why Afghan Colonisation was Destined to Fail

 

It has been said that nation-building is a fool’s errand and, in the case of a nation already known as the “graveyard of empires,” overly ambitious if not downright naive, as evidenced by the creation of a façade of a state in Afghanistan that melted away the moment international support was withdrawn.

 

There are intrinsic challenges to rebuilding Afghanistan, the most significant of which is geographic. Afghanistan is a landlocked country that shares borders with Pakistan, the Taliban’s biggest supporter, and Iran, whose authorities prioritise the chance to humiliate the US over any desire for regional security. International efforts to convince the region that stability is preferable to chaos failed because Afghanistan is essentially a secondary concern to other foreign policy priorities, especially the Iranian conflict with the US, the Pakistani conflict with India, and its ongoing apprehension over a pro-Indian government in Kabul. An uphill battle was unavoidable when two of your closest neighbours were determined to undermine nation-building.

 

A significant contributing aspect is economics because, other than a natural richness that has mostly gone unexplored due to security concerns, Afghanistan has no comparative advantage in any legal trade. The main sources of income are illegal mining, forestry, and narcotics like opium and more recently methamphetamine. Building a legitimate state in a society where most economic activity is illegal is more difficult since so many economically significant players oppose the expansion of the state’s authority into areas where they are operating. Additionally, the absence of obvious viable alternatives continues to be a challenge because many people within the state apparatus were also profiting from criminal activity.

 

Afghanistan is not a unified, monolingual nation-state, but rather contains a number of ethnic groupings, each of which crosses boundaries, adding to the complexity of Afghan society. The entry of extremely well-armed international forces trying to settle disputes by claiming long-standing foes were actually allies simply prolonged warfare. Managing these complicated dynamics and internal feuds amongst clans are challenging.

 

Several military leaders made the observation that democratic systems resulted in the government changing every four to five years, despite the fact that nation-building takes several decades. In recent years, a standoff had developed because the Taliban was aware of its inability to retain urban Afghanistan, where a small number of western troops and more contractors were deployed. This arrangement might have continued indefinitely, but the US presence was no longer popular, especially in the US. The Taliban believed they could just wait it out after it was announced that US troops would be leaving.

 

The fact that the invasion involved overthrowing a group of violent, tyrannical thugs rather than a popular administration may have been the US-led coalition’s best benefit. The issue was that, following the liberation, Iraq was subjected to lessons learnt about how easily less powerful adversaries may be overthrown. The nation-building project wasn’t started for a few years, giving the Taliban time to reorganise in safe havens in Pakistan’s tribal areas, and Afghans didn’t see much direct advantage until then.

 

Tolerance of corruption, which served as the Taliban’s rallying cry and highlighted the most difficult issue of nation-building in the conditions Afghanistan found itself in, served as the foundation for all of this. Not just the Taliban, but the majority of Afghans, questioned early assertions that the multinational presence would last forever. Families were strongly motivated to take steps to secure their future because there was always a chance that the state would fail. As a result, fewer resources were available to create new states, which decreased their likelihood because the more resources there were, the easier it would be to commit corruption. Smaller sums may have been distributed to more local administrative entities, improving service delivery and the legitimacy of the administration.

 

Even if the devolution of financial control, though not political power, a more assertive stance against Pakistan, and some early examples of the advantages of a post-Taliban government could have changed things, fundamental problems would still have existed. An alternate strategy would have simply allowed the current transfer of power to take place over the course of months or years as opposed to only a few hours.

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Defence

“Let people eat cake” says Pakistan Navy

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In 1789 during yet another famine in France, the princess Marie Antoinette upon being told that the peasants had no bread, is said to have replied with frivolous disregard for the starving peasants with the words “Let them eat cake”. Today, the condition of the Pakistani citizens is quite similar to the French peasants of 1789.

The desperate economic conditions in Pakistan and the impact of floods has led the Finance Ministry to issue directives for implementing strict austerity measures for year 2022 – 2023. These measures aim to curtail operating expenditure and reduce the economic burden of the people.

However, it seems that these directives never reached their Navy.

Very recently, Pakistan Navy Ships Shamsheer and Nasr visited Yokosuka Port in Japan with an aim to participate in the International Fleet Review. In much contrast to the government verdict of “no unnecessary expenditure”, the visit was neither mandatory nor of importance. However much to the citizen’s dismay, neither the empty coffers nor the grave economic situation of the people seemed to deter the Navy from going on a tourism cum shopping spree.

Pakistan Navy Ships visit Yokosuka Port in Japan

In economically stable conditions, a Naval ship’s visit to a foreign port would have been welcomed by the citizens. However the economic burden posed by  these activities have quadrupled the fear of a complete breakdown of society. While the cost of fuel for such a long voyage is in itself a huge deterrent, the fact that the ships will be stopping at almost five to seven countries during the futile passage, has made matters worse.

Monetary Implications of this cruise

Let’s look at the basic requirement of a naval voyage. The mandatory requirements include buying stores, fuel/lubricants, undertaking necessary repairs, paying the crew in international currency etc. But is this all? Definitely not. Each stop at a foreign port will require a mandatory interaction with the diplomats, exchange of gifts, parties with great pomp and show to announce the naval ships’ arrival, preparation of native cuisines etc.…The expenditure is definitely mind boggling.

Who is paying for this?

All this is paid through already depleting foreign reserves. Therefore understandably, if news of such frivolous expenditure, especially in these trying times were to reach the general public there would be a furore, and a well justified one. But Pakistan’s Navy has been clever, or at least it thinks it has been.

Where normally, all port visits are turned to a media circus by the Navy, this time not a single press release is available on the open media. Why? Because of a stringent gag order on issuing media bites by the government. The Navy has warned cruising ships to conduct events without the presence of press. The aim apparently is to prevent citizens from becoming aware of this trip to Japan. Pakistan’s naval commanders seem to be relying on their belief (definitely flawed and misguided) that – ordinary Pakistani citizen are like the proverbial ostrich with its head buried in the sand – what it cannot see, does not exist!

In today’s world where information travels faster than light – there are enough people who monitor everything. Which is why hiding the journey of two huge warships was definitely worthless. As soon as a local net-hawker identified the movement of the naval ships – the world and entire Pakistan was made aware of the secret journey.  The Maverick could not outfox these people.

Frivolous Spending in Desperate Times

While one may still be able to find an excuse for Navy’s foreign visits, but what about the inflating expenditure on the procurement and projects, which are of no immediate importance? As pointed out by social media users a few days earlier, the Pakistan navy has been planning to procure four Frigates (each from Turkey and China), four to eight Corvettes (from the Netherlands), eight submarines (from China) and almost ten new aircraft for its maritime fleet.

Which brings a very interesting scenario to light – the huge lack of communication between the Pakistan’s government and its navy. On one hand the government has been insisting on cutting down operating costs and even travel/fuel usage by every ministry and service, but on the other, the Armed Forces are on a shopping spree. And whose money are these forces using?  The question that the citizens of Pakistan need to ask is despite the mushrooming economic crisis, why is there a need to undertake such frivolous expenditure/cruises? And if they are really necessary, why the extra effort to hide it?

Many Pakistanis have already started asking such questions, a mass outcry is not far. And while the Pak armed forces especially its navy may pretend to be blissfully unaware of their countrymen’s plight, they must realize that secret voyages will not help the deplorable situation of their country and their fellow countrymen.

 

This article has been contributed by Commander Abhishek Rathi (Retd), Indian Naval Officer

Commander Abhishek Rathi (Retd) is a retired executive officer and holds an experience of commanding two naval warships. He has a keen interest in maritime history and technology. The officer is also an avid nature photographer and likes traveling all across India for it.

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Defence

History Created: In a First, Two CRPF Women Officers Promoted to IG Rank

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two women officers promoted to IG rank

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was established on July 27, 1939, as the Crown Representative’s Police. On December 28, 1949, the CRPF Act was passed, transforming it into the Central Reserve Police Force. It belongs to the group of Central Armed Police Forces. The primary responsibility of the CRPF is to support state and union territory police forces with consistent efforts to uphold the rule of law and check on the insurgency. Roughly 81 years after its establishment for the first time in its history, two CRPF women officers promoted to IG rank (Inspector Generals), 35 years after the first time women joined CRPF as officers in 1987. The appointment of women officers as IG has been made in the specialised anti-riots unit Rapid Action Force (RAF) and the Bihar Sector. 

Previously, there have been female Indian Police Service (IPS) officers in charge of CRPF formations, and currently, the force has at least three such officials. According to officials, Annie Abraham has been designated as the IG of the Rapid Action Force (RAF), and Seema Dhundia has been placed as the IG of the Bihar Sector as part of a recent transfer order issued by the force headquarters. This is the first time a woman IG will be in charge of the RAF. The CRPF’s sectoral leader is an IG. 

It is interesting to note that these officers were among the highly decorated officers and the first female officers to join CRPF in 1987. They have also led an all-woman Indian police contingent at the UN.

The 15-battalion RAF is called upon to support state police forces for significant events where large crowds are anticipated and for VIP visits. It is deployed for anti-riot, counter-protest, and in a situation where sensitive law and order duties are to be taken care of in various parts of the country. In 1986, the CRPF became the first branch of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) to enlist women for warfare. At present, there are more than 6,000 female constables working in six of these battalions.

This news arrived when the UN Security Council commemorated the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the first in a series of 10 resolutions since 2000. This resolution focuses on important places women must occupy during peace and security dialogues and policy-making efforts. The premise of the passing of the resolution has been a recognition that women and children are affected disproportionately in conflict situations. The efforts towards peacebuilding and peacekeeping are half-hearted until women are put at the centre of these dialogues. This is more popularly known as the Women, Peace and Security agenda (WPS agenda).

CRPF Women Officers Promoted to IG Rank is not the end….

India has a long list of efforts to boast about the participation of women in peace and security even though it has not ratified 1325 and has in official statements mentioned that it has no intention of taking this ahead, too, something that has been debated and questioned for a long time.

The long list of positive efforts towards women’s participation in peace and security from India’s side has been in the direction of WPS despite the non-ratification of the international policy document until now. Some of these are – the increased number of uniformed women in peacekeeping missions. According to the data available from the UN, of around 95,000 peacekeepers in 2020, women comprised 4.8% of military contingents and 10.9% of formed police units. Meanwhile, approximately 34% of personnel in peacekeeping missions were women. It does not bifurcate the number of women from each nation deployed in these peacekeeping missions. The recognition of India’s efforts towards the importance of women’s participation in peacebuilding networks is evident.

India was the first nation to send an all-female troop on a UN peacekeeping operation in 2007. In order to strengthen the capabilities of the Liberian police, the Formed Police Unit was deployed throughout Liberia for round-the-clock security and carried out night patrols in the nation’s capital, Monrovia.

When UNSCR 2242 was adopted in 2015, Indian officials emphasised their nation’s role as a troop-contributing nation, reaffirmed the importance of UNSCR 1325, and pledged to effectively implement the Women, Peace and Security agenda. The first all-female peacekeeping team that India sent to Liberia in 2007 has been hailed as a success by the international community.

India continued to be the most significant cumulative contributor of UN Peacekeeping troops, having provided around 2,53,000 since the 1950s. As of October 31 2020, India is the fifth-largest contributor, with 5,353 personnel deployed in 8 peacekeeping missions. India made deployments of medical personnel to Goma (DRC) and Juba (South Sudan).

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Know All About India’s New CDS  General Anil Chauhan

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India's new cds general anil chauhan

The post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) which had been vacant for nine months after the tragic death of India’s first CDS General Bipin Rawat in a helicopter crash last December, has got a new appointment as Lieutenant General (Lt. Gen.) Anil Chauhan (retd.) on 30 September. As CDS, Gen. Chauhan will also function as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister on all tri-service matters as well as head the Department of Military Affairs as Secretary. In addition to these, he will be the permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC).

Born on 18 May 1961, Lt. Gen. Anil Chauhan was commissioned into the 11th Gorkha Rifles, the same regiment that the former CDS was part of.

The selection took four months after the government amended the Army, Navy, and Air Force rules in early June to widen the eligibility criteria for fulfilling the top post; new rules allowed retired three-star officers to be eligible for the prestigious post.

It is for the first time in the history of the Indian Army that a three-star officer has been brought back from retirement to take charge of a four-star rank.

Who is General Anil Chauhan?

As an alumnus of the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakwasla, a 1981 alumnus of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) Dehradun, Chauhan was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the 6th Battalion of the 11th Gorkha Rifles (6/11 GR) based in Lucknow. Gen. Chauhan, in his career spanning over four decades, has held several commands, and has had invaluable experience in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and North-East India.

As part of his duty as Major General, he commanded an infantry division in the Baramulla sector in Jammu and Kashmir and the Dimapur-based 3 corps as the Corps Commander. Later as Lieutenant General, he commanded a Corps in the North-Eastern India and subsequently became the Eastern Army Commander in September 2019. In this duty he ensured that the army’s focus shifted from counter-insurgency to conventional tasks along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as Operation Snow Leopard was underway in Eastern Ladakh. In this operation, the Indian Army dedicated three months entirely for planning before it executed the operation to control key heights along the LAC in eastern Ladakh. The role of Gen. Chauhan was crucial in this operation which is still in progress. He held charge of the Eastern Army Commander until he retired from service on May 31, 2021.

cds anil chauhan

In addition to these command appointments, Gen. Chauhan has also served as Director General of Military Operations (DGMO). As the DGMO he was in charge of ‘Operation Sunrise’, which consisted of coordinated operations undertaken jointly by Indian and Myanmar armies on insurgent groups taking shelter across the border. The operation was particularly important in eradicating North-East India’s insurgencies and it turned out to be highly successful. He had also contributed to the Naga talks in consultation with the then-Governor of Nagaland.

In fulfilling his duty as DGMO at the Army Headquarters from January 30, 2018 to August 31, 2019 when Gen. Rawat was the Army Chief, he was closely involved in India’s response to the Pulwama terror attack. The assault which involved India’s north-western neighbour resulted in the death of 40 Indian security personnel. It was avenged in the form of Balakot air strike on February 26, in which Gen. Chauhan had a role to play.

Post retirement, Gen. Chauhan took charge as the Military Adviser in the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), where he was working closely with National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval.

Personal Life 

cds anil chauhan family members

Having immense experience in resolving border issues, Gen. Chauhan has shared his understanding of his life’s journey in his two books – ‘Aftermath of a Nuclear Attack’, and ‘Military and Geography of India’s Northern Borders’. As per sources close to him, he is known to be a consistent golf player and a passionate collector of masks.

Challenges That Lie Ahead 

The post of CDS is still evolving; the groundwork was done by the former CDS, and Gen. Chauhan has to take forward from where he left off. The priority will be to reorganise the armed forces into theatre commands meant to bring in synergy and optimise resources. Secondly, being an expert in Indo-Chinese affairs, his experience will help his country in resolving border issues with China. Thirdly, he will take care of modernisation of forces as the vintage weapons need replacements. Lastly, one of his key responsibilities is to stop cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan. Citizens of the country are hopeful that the new CDS will usher in new possibilities and a new perspective of functioning in the three wings of defence.

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Defence

India US Military Exercise Amidst China’s Taiwan Conflict

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India US military exercise

Indian and American military forces will conduct the periodic ‘Yudh Abhyas’ or ‘War Practice’ from October 14 to 31, 2022 at Auli in Uttarakhand, which is 95 km away from the Line of Actual Control. The India US military exercise is undertaken to enhance the interoperability between the two armies, and the joint exercise will carry out maneuvers to exploit the full scope of high-altitude warfare.

The occurrence of 18th edition is happening at a very crucial moment as both countries have strife relations with China. The Indian side will showcase its high-altitude warfare strategies and US forces will complement them by exposing various technologies that can be used in challenging scenarios.

This edition will witness the participation of the Indian Air Force in the effective utilization of aerial and ground assets. Also, the India America Military Exercise develops the social relationship with country.

More About India America Yudh Abhyas in Uttarakhand

India US Military Exercise in Uttarakhand

Yudh Abhyas is the largest running joint India US military exercise and defence cooperation between the countries. The program was started in 2004 under the US Army Pacific Partnership Program.

It is hosted alternately between both countries. The 17th edition was held in Alaska in October 2021. The exercise aims at enhancing understanding, cooperation, and interoperability between the two armies.

Also, the moto of India America military exercise is successfully achieved in Auli Uttarakhand. Also, the impact of this social training is shown on different countries, and various controversies has been made.

Why India-China Standoff? Facts & Statements

India China Stand Off

In the last two years, there has been a constant rise in tensions between India and China, as the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) made an effort to unilaterally change the status of LAC. Also, the good relationship of India with powerful countries, terrify the China government, and such social activities such as joint India US military exercise, helps to more strong relations.

The Indian army struck back and thwarted the Chinese attempts. The External Affairs Minister while describing New Delhi’s efforts had said, “We’ve been resolute when challenged in border areas. 2 years ago, in the middle of COVID, we had China move forces in violation of an agreement. But we stood our ground and have been working it out without making concessions. The world recognizes that a country is capable of defending its interests”.

As per the latest news reported on 13 September 2022, the armies of both countries have confirmed their return from PP-15 (Patrolling Point) in the Gogra-Hot Springs area of eastern Ladakh, and Indian officials are hopeful for further negotiations on more crucial face-offs of Depsang Plains and Demchok.

US-China Tussle

Following the controversial Taiwan visit of the Speaker of the United States’ House of Representatives Ms. Nancy Pelosi, and the support extended by China to Russia in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, the US-China relationship has also deteriorated further. The two economic superpowers are generally also involved in a cold war in the

China’s Reaction on India US Military Exercise

China's Reaction on India US Military Drills

Chinese officials strongly opposed the military exercise, referring to it as a violation of past agreements between New Delhi and Beijing, and following conversation has been made:

“We firmly oppose any third party to meddle in the China-India border issue in any form”, Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, spokesperson for the Chinese defence ministry said. “In light of the relevant agreements signed by China and India in 1993 and 1996, neither side is allowed to conduct military exercise against the other in areas near the LAC”, Tan said.

He further added, “It is hoped that the Indian side will strictly abide by the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and the relevant agreements, uphold its commitment to resolving border issues through bilateral channels, and maintain peace and tranquillity in the border area with practical actions”.

New Delhi’s Reply to China’s Allegations

Delhi Gov

In response to China’s allegations, “I do not understand the reference to third party interference. The India US military exercise is something completely different and I do not know what color has been given that it is targeted there or it is violating any existing agreement”, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

“The two sides should stick to the agreements (signed) in the past and obviously that did not happen”, Bagchi said, referring to China violating the agreements which led to the face-off in eastern Ladakh.

After the coming together of like-minded countries for informal dialogue, namely Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), China’s apprehension has increased and it has levelled the grouping as an ‘Indo-Pacific NATO’.

“The Indo-Pacific strategy cooked up by the United States, in the name of ‘freedom and openness,’ is keen on forming cliques”, Foreign minister of China, Wang Yi had said. He further criticized the grouping as ‘it claims that it intends to change China’s surrounding environment, but its purpose is to contain China and make Asia-Pacific countries serve as pawns of US hegemony’.

All the members of Quad had cleared their agenda and said they are committed to cooperation with partners in the region who share the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. India being an essential part of the grouping has always put its best efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region.

India’s Prospective with All Countries

India has always called for peace and co-operation in the region, that’s why the concept for India US military exercise has been conducted. Being a member of SCO, the two Asian giants have resolved their misunderstandings.

New Delhi has always asked countries to respect each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and international agreements. In the coming years, one can hope for a free and open Indo-Pacific region which will be beneficial for all the countries situated in this region.

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Defence

Is China’s Global Security Initiative a future security hazard?

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In April this year, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) laid out a new vision to re-establish the primacy of the Middle Kingdom (or zhong guo, 中国) by adapting the ancient concept of Tianxia (天下) which literally means “all under heaven”. In typical Beijing-style misdirection, this plan was disguised under the moniker ‘China’s Global Security Initiative’. When he announced the Initiative, at the Boao Forum on April 21, Xi Jinping asserted that this effort was based on dialogue, partnerships and win-win situations – or is this initiative just another case of standard CCP hypocrisy lexicon?

 

But before we discuss the Chinese proposal for GSI, lets glimpse into the other major decisions of Chairman Xi and the underlying factors which have necessitated Beijing’s new gambit:

1. Xi’s win-win developmental myth aka Belt and Road Initiative – As the CCP prepares to mark its 101st anniversary, global opinion and trust in China is reaching record low levels. With each passing week countries which bought into the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), all face crippling loan repayments. Notably, China’s banks are never willing to re-negotiate payments, and almost always have a ‘debt-for-ownership’ deal on hand – take for example the situation of Sri Lanka and Pakistan! So, even the CCP’s friends are getting wary of making any new deals… which is casting a deep shadow over Xi’s legacy. 

2. Zero-Covid Mismanagement – The loss of faith in Beijing has been exacerbated by Xi’s refusal to recalibrate response to COVID in multiple Chinese cities. Extended lockdowns and mass quarantines have impacted global supply chains, with less developed countries facing the brunt of the economic hardship. Moreover, the complete failure of the much-touted Chinese model in containing COVID for over two months, even as the rest of the world regains a modicum of normalcy, has raised several questions about governance with CCP characteristics. Such doubts among political circles, where the CCP sought to expand influence, is deeply troubling for Xi and his party men.

3. China’s assistance to Russia’s Ukraine war – China has not been able to establish itself as a neutral player in the ongoing Russo-Ukraine conflict. Perceived by the West as supporting Russia, Beijing has faced strong headwinds across capitals in Europe. Moreover, coordinated Russia-China provocative military manoeuvres during the Quad Summit in Japan have reinforced the Western belief that Beijing and Moscow are cooperating militarily in the ongoing conflict. As a result, widespread resistance is being faced by Chinese commercial and political entities across Europe and America.

 

4. Rise of QUAD and Failure of Chinese Diplomacy – The deepening of the relationships among the Quad nations, as well as the declaration of multiple Quad projects and initiatives has impacted the CCP’s self-belief. Beijing was so confident of its ‘sea foam’ narrative of the Quad, that it seemingly ignored the positive effect its own provocations were having in binding together like-minded countries of the region. The Quad, today, is an accepted, welcomed and respected arrangement, which has both the capacity and capability to ensure the requisite degree of security across the Indo-Pacific, needed for inclusive growth and shared prosperity. The rise of a credible alternative, in an area which Beijing had assumed was its own backyard, has significantly undermined the CCP’s claims to absolute pre-eminence in the region.

China’s Global Security Initiative – overlook

Aimed at building an Asian Security Framework (with Chinese characteristics), the GSI is being touted as an alternative to confrontational alliances which seek zero-sum outcomes. The “six commitments” promised under this initiative as issued by Chinese Ambassador to Somalia, Ambassador Fei Shengchao, are staying committed to – 

  1. the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security
  2. respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries
  3. abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter
  4. taking seriously the legitimate security concerns of all countries
  5. peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation
  6. maintaining security in both traditional and non-traditional domains 

Packaged as a utopian, inclusive construct which promises to better serve Asian interests (than Quad/ AUKUS) the GSI makes a wonderful read… as a work of fiction.  Some issues included in the GSI which jump out at the reader, particularly considering China’s recent track record in these areas, are – trust deficit due to irresponsible actions of nations, cold-war mentality, (dis)respect for territorial & maritime integrity, rising extremism and lastly zero-respect for international law!

To put this hypocrisy in perspective, consider the following 

  • China’s all-weather friendship with Pakistan, including political support for proscribed terrorists, is the best example of a confrontational alliance anywhere in the world! Even today, extensive Chinese support to Pakistan’s deep state is resulting in extremist attacks across India, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

 

  • China’s undeclared launch of a missile by a submarine (which almost hit a passenger plane), dangerous manoeuvres and tactics by Chinese jets over international airspace which could have collided with an Australian warplane, and clear records of essential commodity hoarding (wheat, oils, etc) by Chinese businessmen (while countries across the world grapple with supply shortages) – these are some of the recent examples of how China is among the biggest contributors to the global trust deficit. 

 

  • China’s blatant violation of international laws, manipulating markets and supply chains, disrupting legal economic activities outside its jurisdiction, etc – Beijing has forced a gathering of like-minded countries, which share concerns and agree on the manner these illegal actions must be countered. Moreover, the calls of war from Chinese ‘hawks’ have become far more explicit, frequent and extreme, espcially since Xi Jinping has taken over the command of CCP. 

 

  • China’s claims of respecting territorial integrity are possibly the most ludicrous of them all. From South China Sea to Tibet, and Taiwan, Beijing’s insatiable greed for territorial acquisition and disregard for opposing perspectives is well established. It is, therefore, laughable to see this point being championed by Xi, in his idea of GSI.

 

  • China was the first country to engage with the Taliban post the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, and it continues to shelter Pakistan’s booming terror industry. Significant proof has also come to light about Chinese support to extremists in Myanmar, Maldives and Northeast India. It would consequently be appropriate to say that China’s concern of rising extremism is another hypocritical feint by the CCP.

Will the world accept China’s Global Security Model? 

Despite the obvious hypocrisy in the GSI proposal, Beijing does have a fair chance of success in areas where the US’ influence is resented. Some countries in South America, in particular, will welcome it as a medium to hedge their bets, thereby extracting more from the West. Closer to China, however, nations would do well to be more circumspect. 

Alternatively, the GSI could be a way to distract the Chinese people from the widespread failures of the CCP in recent years, as well as China’s declining influence in multiple regions. A big, grandstanding announcement, notwithstanding limited capabilities to ensure success, would provide enough short-term political gains for Xi and his men to retain a favourable narrative during the CCP’s 101st birthday party. This may well be the true motive behind the GSI. 

Any security framework with CCP characteristics would ultimately have a hierarchical architecture, with Xi enthroned at its summit. The GSI’s concept of an Asian Security Framework would yield an Asian order where Beijing commands the loyalty of all regional countries, and peace prevails at the pleasure of the CCP’s top leadership. With Chairman Xi all but certain to stake a claim to the ‘CCP Chairman for Life’ position during the upcoming Congress, he would ultimately become the ‘de facto’ emperor of the new Tianxia… the true goal of the CCP, particularly since Xi’s ascension in 2013-14.

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