Sunday, September 25, 2016

Could India And Pakistan Go To War?

A shooting war is unlikely, but covert activities are a strong possibility.

by Michael Kugelman

On the morning of September 18, four men identified by India as members of the Pakistani terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) stormed an Indian Army base in the town of Uri in India-administered Kashmir and killed 18 troops.

Just a few hours later, a video surfaced on social media that quickly went viral in India.

In the video, an Indian soldier, standing in a bus and surrounded by other troops, energetically recites a violently anti-Pakistan poem. He warns that Pakistan will pay for its attempts to hurt India, and he identifies the names of Pakistani cities that could be destroyed. His fellow troops join him in belting out the poem’s main refrain: “Pakistan, hear this loud and clear: If … war breaks out you will be obliterated. Kashmir will exist but Pakistan won’t.”

Many Indians were singing a similarly bellicose tune in the hours immediately following the Uri attack. Some members of India’s notoriously hawkish media corps openly called for war on Pakistan. A top television news anchor, Arnab Goswami, implored India to “cripple” Pakistan and “bring them down to their knees.” Prominent print journalist Minhaz Merchant declared, “Let guns now talk with Pakistan.” The Indian government got in on this jingoistic act as well. “For one tooth, the complete jaw. So-called days of strategic restraint are over,” a top official with the ruling BJP party, Ram Madhav, posted on Facebook.

Pakistan, meanwhile, responded with its own flurry of angry rhetoric. In a corps commanders conference on September 19, Army Chief Raheel Sharif declared that his country was “fully prepared to respond to the entire spectrum of direct and indirect threats” from India. Pakistan, he vowed, “will thwart any sinister design against [the] integrity and sovereignty of the country.” He was even more direct on September 23, vowing that the Army will defend “each and every inch” of the country “no matter what the cost.”

The Uri attack came at a time of deep crisis in India-Pakistan relations. India is still smarting from an earlier attack on a military base in India, in the town of Pathankot in Punjab state in January, which it also blamed on JeM—a group with close ties to Pakistani intelligence. In March, Pakistan claimed to have arrested an Indian spy in the insurgency-riven province of Balochistan. Meanwhile, India has responded to recent uprisings in Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Indian state claimed by Pakistan, with characteristically brutal shows of force that have contributed to nearly 90 deaths in the unrest, outraging Pakistanis.

In the days leading up to the Uri assault, India and Pakistan were waging a nasty war of words, with Islamabad excoriating India for its abusive acts in Kashmir and accusing it of committing terrorism in Pakistan, and New Delhi lambasting Pakistan for its brutal tactics in Balochistan. On the very night before the Uri attack, Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Asif threatened in a television interview to use nuclear weapons against India if Pakistan’s “defense and survival” were endangered.

All this saber-rattling prompts a troubling question: Could the two countries go to war?

The good news is that the terrifying prospect of an India-Pakistan shooting war—two nuclear-armed nemeses locked in conflict—is highly unlikely. The bad news is that a more shadowy war, marked by covert activities, is quite possible, if not inevitable.

The main deterrent to a hot war on the subcontinent is nuclear weapons. Pakistan refuses to adopt a no-first use policy, meaning that it could conceivably respond to India’s use of conventional military force with a nuclear strike. This means that for India, any substantive military action against Pakistan—and even modest uses of force such as targeted airstrikes—would be dangerously risky. To avoid crossing any nuclear red lines, Indian military actions would need to be very modest and targeted—thereby hampering efforts to degrade and destroy terrorist compounds, Pakistani military facilities, or whatever India’s desired target may be. And yet such actions could still prompt Pakistani responses—such as the sponsoring of terror attacks in India.

The two countries have fought three major wars, but they all occurred before 1998, when both nations became declared nuclear weapons states. A fourth war occurred in 1999, but it was a limited conflict, with Pakistani soldiers infiltrating into Kashmir and fighting Indian troops for two months before withdrawing back across the border. According to Bruce Riedel, a former top U.S. official on South Asia, U.S. President Bill Clinton successfully pressured Pakistan to withdraw its troops—after the CIA concluded that Pakistan was preparing to deploy and possibly use nuclear weapons.

Another reason a hot war is unlikely is that India has limited capabilities to wage one. Research by South Asia security analysts George Perkovich and Toby Dalton, drawing on interviews with Indian military officials, concludes that the “surface attraction” of limited airstrikes is “offset significantly, if not equally, by risks and inadequacies.” Additionally, it contends that “there is vast room for improvement” in intelligence collection capacities. It also asserts that India’s capabilities to stage joint air and land operations are wanting. “Even at the level of exercises,” Perkovich and Dalton write, “the Indian Army and Air Force have not inspired each other’s confidence in their capacity to conduct effective combined operations in realistic warfare conditions.” In effect, India’s military has more than sufficient numbers—only the militaries of the United States and China have more than its 1.3 million active personnel—but less than sufficient capacity.

Not surprisingly, India has signaled its hesitation to retaliate militarily to the Uri attack. Indian military commanders have reportedly counseled the government against any “rash” use of force. Indian Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad declared that any Indian response “will be done with full diplomatic and strategic maturity.” That’s a far cry from the jaw-for-a-tooth rhetoric emanating from New Delhi immediately after the attack.

One more reason India may hesitate to use military force in retaliation to Uri is that it lacks sufficient evidence to tie Pakistan to the attack. Indian journalist Shivam Vij recently pointed out that a widely believed and reported claim in India—that the Uri terrorists had Pakistani markings on their weapons—actually lacks conclusive proof and has not been confirmed by New Delhi.

All this said, something has to give. India’s government campaigned on a pledge to take a tougher line against Pakistan. New Delhi’s anti-Pakistan rhetoric has grown increasingly shrill in recent weeks, and many Indians are unhappy that their government did not retaliate against Pakistan after the Pathankot attack. For India’s Hindu nationalist government, passivity in the face of Pakistani provocation is an increasingly precarious position—and could prove politically damaging.

To this end, there’s good reason to believe India could in due course launch a campaign of covert operations in Pakistan—mainly in the form of lightning strikes across the border to take out Pakistani terrorists. Several Indian media accounts have suggested this war has already begun, with one report claiming Indian Special Forces crossed into Pakistan and killed 20 terrorists. The accuracy of the report, however, has been disputed, particularly given that Pakistan has said nothing about such a raid.

For India, covert activities inside Pakistan would have numerous advantages. They would allow, in some cases, for plausible deniability. They would fall short of any nuclear red lines. They would require less capacity and coordination than large-scale military action. And they would be less risky overall. Additionally, New Delhi could receive indirect support from Washington. Deepening U.S.-India cooperation could provide opportunities for Washington to share more intelligence about the location and activities of Pakistani terrorists. Additionally, India is keen to secure drones from the United States. Such an acquisition would dramatically enhance its surveillance capacity, and, if the unmanned craft are armed, strengthen its ability to stage covert airstrikes as well.

To be sure, covert operations, while not as dangerous as full-scale conflict, could nonetheless be highly destabilizing for the subcontinent. Pakistanis already accuse India of waging covert war in Pakistan, from colluding with the Pakistani Taliban to collaborating with Baloch separatists. A wave of attacks on Pakistani troops or an assassination campaign against terrorists—regardless of whether there is clear evidence of Indian complicity—could lead to Pakistan-sponsored terror attacks in India. Given that Pakistan’s conventional forces are vastly outnumbered by India’s, it depends on asymmetrical tactics—such as providing support to anti-India terror groups—along with its nuclear umbrella to keep India at bay.

With India scaling up its security cooperation with Afghanistan and launching a new transport corridor project in Iran, it will be increasingly visible in the broader region and therefore more vulnerable to assaults on its nationals and interests many miles from home.

The uptake? Even limited, covert uses of force are fraught with considerable risk.

Michael Kugelman is the senior program associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

Make Rafale Deal Details Public: Antony

New Delhi: The Opposition Congress on Saturday expressed concern over the “diluted” Rafale aircraft agreement reached between India and France yesterday and demanded that details of the deal be made public.

Former Defence Minister AK Antony raised several question marks on “sufficiency” of the deal asking the BJP-led government how it planned to arm the IAF with a mere 36 aircraft deal.

“During the UPA’s tenure, it was decided to purchase 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft to meet the IAF’s urgent operational requirement. As per the IAF, 126 was the minimum operational need then. Today, the scenario is even more critical. What is the plan of the government?” said Antony, addressing reporters on Saturday.

The former minister cited the sanctioned strength of the Air Force as 42 squadrons and said in the current volatile situation, the country needed more, and not less, jet strength. “The sanctioned strength is 42 squadrons and the available strength is 32 squadrons. By 2022, this strength will be reduced to 25 squadrons. How will the government equip the IAF with more aircraft,” asked Antony. Antony asked how the government would bridge the gap with respect to China and Pakistan who were augmenting their air strength.

The Rafale Deal Is Modi's 'Masterstroke'

'Under the present Defence Procurement Procedure, it would have been a nightmare, and a long, long one at that, to build 108 Rafales in India. Modi realised this and took the wise decision, though it is a definitive setback for his Make in India scheme,' says Claude Arpi.

Has the Congress started using the Aam Aadmi Party's tactics? You make any allegations against your opponent, whether true or not, and the media believes you; at the worst, nobody will check the veracity of your declarations.

It is the way the Congress trained its best gunners on the Rafale deal. According to PTI: 'The Congress alleged non-transparency in the multi-crore Rafale deal and questioned the Center's move to bypass defence procurement procedure in the absence of inter-governmental agreement with France.'

The news agency quotes Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan, who 'informed' reporters in Goa: 'Till date, even the price of aircraft has not been disclosed by the Modi government. India does not have inter-governmental agreement with France for government-to-government purchases.'

There was no clarity even on the transfer of technology agreement, Vadakkan added.

The former defence minister, probably upset with his successor who was reported to have said that AK Antony had 'killed the deal by making several notings on the file,' also participated in the blitzkrieg: 'The present government has compromised our national security.' Antony also criticised the deal for the French fighter plane.

But let us come back to the facts.

First, no contract has been signed so far, negotiations are still on between the French team nominated by President Francois Hollande and its Indian counterpart. The details of the talks are not known, except that France agreed to a 25 per cent 'discount on its earlier offer for an off the-shelf purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft: This will be the base on which further negotiations will take place,' a French source told the Economic Times.

The basic price of the aircraft should be the same as the one paid by the French air force for a similar configuration.

'The overall cost is not expected to cross $8 billion for the entire 36 aircraft fleet,' ET added. The final price will include the cost of the aircraft, and also include maintenance facilities, training of pilots and technicians, some armaments and spares.

It is what is presently being negotiated.

Details of government to government talks are never made public during the negotiations; it is the normal procedure.

How did the 'deal' reach this stage?

On April 9, 2015, an Indian delegation arrived in Paris, ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Till that time, discussions were still on for the 126 planes (the bone of contention being the 108 planes to be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in Bengaluru), but the negotiations had reached a dead-end as Dassault was not ready to take on the responsibility for the work done by HAL and there were too many uncertainties/complications in the Defence Procurement Procedure to make the deal viable.

Modi's decision to purchase 'off-the-shelf' was a quick, pragmatic, and smart move. He brought the IAF's 'critical operational necessity' on the negotiating table, while dropping the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft framework. We shall see why.

Prime Minister Modi confirmed the decision for a government to government deal during his press conference with President Hollande.

A few days later, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar hoped that the Rafale would be inducted into the IAF in two years's time, adding: 'India has finally broken the ice over the deal which has been pending for the last 17 years.'

The Congress's accusation, that there is no procedure to by-pass the Defence Procurement Procedure, is absolutely wrong and it shows that Congress leaders have not done their homework.

Article 71 of the Defence Procurement Procedure deals with the possibility of direct purchase: 'There may be occasions when procurements would have to be done from friendly foreign countries which may be necessitated due to geo-strategic advantages that are likely to accrue to our country. Such procurements would not classically follow the Standard Procurement Procedure and the Standard Contract Document but would be based on mutually agreed provisions by the governments of both the countries.'

Article 72 further confirms the advisability of direct purchases in some cases: 'In cases of large value acquisition, especially that requiring product support over a long period of time, it may be advisable to enter into a separate inter government agreement (if not already covered under an umbrella agreement covering all cases) with the government of the country from which the equipment is proposed to be procured after the requisite inter ministerial consultation. Such an inter governmental agreement is expected to safeguard the interests of the Government of India and should also provide for assistance of the foreign government in case the contract(s) runs into an unforeseen problem.'

In the case of France, though it may not be considered as an 'umbrella' agreement, there is an 'agreement on defence cooperation' signed on February 20, 2006, by Pranab Mukherjee, then defence minister, and his French counterpart (Madame Michele Alliot-Marie). Article 4-3 says: 'The defence equipment sub-committee shall organise and direct cooperation in the field of equipment. It shall also be responsible for examining the issues relating to export controls of defence equipment and related items.'

Further, Article 73 of the Defence Procurement Procedure mentions a special procedure on 'strategic considerations:' In certain acquisition cases, imperatives of strategic partnerships or major diplomatic, political, economic, technological or military benefits deriving from a particular procurement may be the principal factor determining the choice of a specific platform or equipment on a single vendor basis.'

In this case, the IAF's 'critical operational necessity' was the imperative.

India regularly buys equipment from the US in a similar manner under the foreign military sales programme (for example, six Lockheed Martin C 130J transport aircraft were thus inducted in 2011. By who, did you ask? Why, by Antony himself!). The condition is that each deal is treated separately. With Russia, contracts are negotiated through a government agency called Rosoboronexport.

Major General Mrinal Suman, one of the foremost Defence Procurement Procedure experts, confirms that in any case 'a separate inter government agreement has to be signed for every deal.'

In the present case, it will be done when both parties will have agreed on the details (price, delivery, conditions, etc). General Suman adds: 'I think it was a master stroke by Modi. There will be no bribes and no middlemen. Further, it will be for the French government to negotiate price with the manufacturers and deliver the planes to India. Most importantly, the deal will carry the sovereign guarantee of the French government.'

As for HAL, the situation is complicated, and everyone agrees that it would have not been possible to build 108 jets in Bengaluru in the required time delays.

A couple years ago, Wing Commander I M Chopra, a former HAL chairman, explained to me one of the many difficulties: 'HAL is a vertically integrated company. Practically every item is made in-house, ranging from accessories, avionics, and engines to aircraft. It is a management nightmare. No company in the world attempts such vertical integration. About 60, 70 per cent of a Boeing aircraft is made by subcontractors. When I tried to get engine fuel pump components for the Jaguar made by MICO, Bengaluru (a Bosch subsidiary), it was a non-starter because we needed manufacturing tolerance of five microns and MICO had experience of working with 25 microns.'

'I think now, 20 years later, it would be possible to induce the private sector to set up high-tech units for building accessories etc,' Chopra added. 'It should be possible also to subcontract high technology work as I believe a few companies have set up machining centres with very modern CNC machines. Such companies have started taking up defence sector work. All of us are interested in indigenisation but there are difficulties to achieve it in high technology items.'

Under the present Defence Procurement Procedure, it would have been a nightmare, and a long, long one at that, to build 108 Rafales in India. Modi realised this and took the wise decision, though it is a definitive setback for his favourite 'Make in India' scheme.

Interestingly, recently, Xinhua commented on the purchase of the Rafales by India. The Chinese news agency wrote: 'The fighter established its reputation with airstrikes against targets in Libya in 2011 when it proved capable of carrying out a mission lasting a total of nine hours and 35 minutes with an in-flight refueling. In 2013, the fighter's twin engines proved they could withstand the heat of the Sahara when France attacked rebel camps in eastern Mali. The aircraft has also been outstanding in reconnaissance and precision bombing in Iraq, where it is one of the main aircraft used in airstrikes against Islamic State.'

'The aircraft's aerodynamic design, avionics and engines are superior to its Chinese counterpart, the Chengdu J-10, which has entered service with the PLA,' Xinhua admitted, to conclude that the Rafale also has 'the capacity to carry the ASMP-A, a cruise missile that can be fired as a warning shot before a nuclear strike. Both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers, but the means to deploy nuclear weapons is crucial in establishing a credible deterrent.'

Congress leaders should not forget this either.

A Shipyard That Grew With A Floating Behemoth

by S Anandan

INS Viraat, Refitted At Cochin Shipyard For Decommissioning, is set to leave for Mumbai

On a mid-February night in 1991, the mooring of an ONGC jack-up rig, Sagar Shakti, which was undergoing repair at the Cochin Shipyard, snapped.

It caused an instant scare as the rig went drifting in the direction of the Venduruthy bridge, to the south of the channel. The workmen of the yard were soon joined by sailors of India’s flagship, the newly-acquired aircraft carrier INS Viraat that had just arrived for its maiden refit, to retrieve and refasten the tug and a mishap was averted.

“It was the start of a long and fruitful association. While the yard had repaired several commercial ships until then, it was our first tryst with a naval vessel and the relationship that took roots then has grown stronger down these years,” recalls N.V. Suresh Babu, director (operations) at Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) who was an assistant manager at that time.

The first refit of the 28,000-tonne behemoth was a logistics roller coaster for the yard. A merchant ship would, at most, have a crew of about 90 people. With Viraat had arrived about 900 sailors -- which presented the yard with a steep administrative learning curve, as it had to make provision for dining, bath, toilet, galley and accommodation for these many people and allocate extraordinary manpower for work on the vessel.

The arrival of the icon of the Falklands war was like meeting a mythical giant, as its heroic deeds were doing the rounds. The realisation that the massive platform had a temple, church and a mosque, even a jail, on board, only heightened its mystical charisma. Meanwhile, apprehension was rife about the yard’s capability to refit the warship. But all questions were put to rest when Viraat was seated comfortably on precast concrete blocks padded with felt on February 19, 1991. Cable hangers on the dock would be removed each time Viraat was docked for refit -- short, normal or medium – so as to avoid damage and the Navy was happy to get the ship back on or before the schedule and in immaculate condition.

Small wonder, then, that Mr. Suresh Babu, who was associated with all the refits of Viraat barring the first, calls it “our vessel”.

“We took good care of her right through. Each time, Viraat came with a new crew. But our workforce remained largely the same and built a bond with the ship. We have grown fond of the old lady.”

The first medium refit of Viraat was in 1999 – a Rs. 100-crore job, the largest repair order won by the yard till 2006 – when repair/overhaul of its diesel alternators, boilers, propulsion, elevators and underwater equipment was carried out and the hull strengthened.

The refit was undertaken to extend its life for a 10-year period when the refurbished Admiral Gorshkov, INS Vikramaditya, would replace it. But the delay in the induction of Vikramaditya forced the Navy to send Viraat for another life-extension refit in 2008, on a budget of Rs 137 crore.

The just-concluded refit, its last before ending service with the Indian Navy, has rendered Viraat defunct. It will now be towed to Mumbai for decommissioning.

Defying Militant Threat, 25,000 Aspirants Turn Up To Serve As Special Police Officers In Kashmir

SRINAGAR: Defying militant threat and the separatists' call, thousands of youth across Kashmir have turned up to fill 10,000 posts of Special Police Officers (SPOs) despite the ongoing unrest which has claimed 82 lives.

"We have received over 25,000 applications from the aspiring candidates willing to serve as SPOs from across the 10 districts of the Valley," a senior official supervising the recruitment process told PTI here.

On September 22, the Centre had approved the recruitment of an additional 10,000 SPOs with immediate effect to strengthen the Jammu and Kashmir police particularly in view of the unrest in the Valley.

There are already 25,000 SPOs in the state, engaged on a monthly honorarium of Rs 6,000.

The official said the highest number of applications at 8,600 were received from north Kashmir's Kupwara district followed by Budgam (4,000), Baramulla (3,853), Anantnag (2,400), Ganderbal (1,600), Kulgam (1,258), and Bandipora and Srinagar (1,000 each).

While 800 applications from aspiring candidates were received from Pulwama district, 500 youths applied for the job in Shopian district, he said.

The official said the fitness test of the aspiring candidates has already been conducted in various districts which saw encouraging turnout of the youth ignoring the call of separatist leaders and the militant threats.

Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit, in the last week of August, had issued a threat, warning the youth against joining police as SPOs.

"Whosoever gets appointed as SPO should also be ready to face the consequences," Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naik had said in a video circulated through social networking sites on August 30.

Terming the recruitment of SPOs as a "ploy" of the government, Naik had said, "India wants to weaken our freedom struggle and wants us to fight with each other."

Separatists, on the other hand, had asked the youth to ignore the "enticement aimed at breaking their ranks", alleging that the government by absorbing the youth as SPOs was trying to revive "Ikhwan Militia" of 1990s to crush the "freedom struggle".

"The fresh recruitment drive is nothing but to revive the notorious Ikhwan culture in the state which in mid 90s wiped out almost a whole hatchery of freedom loving people throughout the Valley," hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani had said in a statement on August 7.

Kashmir Valley is on the boil since July 9 following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces a day earlier. The widespread clashes left 82 people including two cops dead, and thousands injured.

Will Russia-Pakistan Joint Drill Alter Moscow-Delhi Ties?

NEW DELHI: This week India-Russia relationship moved from being 'special' to regular. As Russian troops landed in Pakistan for a two-week counter-terrorism joint exercise , the 'degree of separation' of the original strategic partners only increased, coming as it did in less than a week after the Uri terror strike.

Even though India and Russia are also engaged in counter-terrorism exercises in Vladivostok (for the eighth year running), watching Russian troops land in Pakistan is a new experience in the region. In another couple of weeks, India will host Russian President Vladimir Putin for the annual summit when India and Russia will struggle yet again to put economic ballast into their strategic partnership.

After years of trying to get the private sector to invest, the government has got into the act - OVL has invested in Rosneft; Indian pharmaceutical companies are making in Russia; Indian companies are buying diamonds directly from Russia instead of a third country; and civil nuclear cooperation is on a roll. Russia is central to India's foreign policy goals and to the balance of power in Asia.

"The challenge for us is to keep the India-Russia relationship stable in a loosening great power universe," a source said. Russia remains India's top defence supplier, but Indian officials confirmed they have asked Moscow to make a choice between Pakistan and India. It's a red line that Moscow has breached and things may never be the same again.

However, Russia's opening to Pakistan was inevitable. Indian analysts believe it is a subset of the biggest pivot in recent times: Russia's evolving relationship with China. Many would say it is a reaction to India's US gambit, but that would be too simplistic, because after the Cold War and until the sanctions, Russia had itself opened up to the US.

The Russian pivot to China is now virtually complete. With lowering oil prices, sharply contracting economy and strained ties with Europe and the US, Russia, India believes, was pushed towards China. Their history has not been great and Russia retains some suspicion about China, but the current terms of engagement are dramatically different, because Russia is now sharing technologies etc with China it would never have dreamed of earlier. That could pose problem for India going forward.

India's opening to the US, Israel and Europe for weapons was a statement of strategic importance and both Russia and China took lessons from it. China is still under an EU arms embargo and neither the US nor Israel will sell the big toys to Beijing. Hence, Russia and China's burgeoning defence and tech relationship was natural. Except Russia is no longer the power it was and China is a superpower at the gate, a reality that determines who dominates that relationship.

It was only natural Russia would open up to Pakistan, China's closest ally at present. Last week Russian and Chinese navies conducted drills in South China Sea , where Russia has taken China's side. This is a function largely of Russia's worsening ties with the US. In Afghanistan, Russia believes IS is the real threat, not the Taliban, something Pakistan is at pains to push.


From Rahami To Bin Laden: How PM Modi Showed Pakistan is 'Ivy League of Terrorism'

One of the highlights of India’s reply to Pakistan at the United Nations General Assembly was Eenam Gambhir's sharp rebuttal to Pak PM Sharif’s speech where she branded Pakistan the ‘host to the Ivy League of terrorism’. It was a phrase that stuck thanks to its accessibility to millions across the world who know what Ivy League stands for. Exercising India's Right of Reply to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's "long tirade" about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN Eenam Gambhir made a strong rebuttal. "What my country and our other neighbours are facing today is Pakistan's long-standing policy of sponsoring terrorism, the consequences of which have spread well beyond our region," she said.

Gambhir said India sees in Pakistan "a terrorist state" which channelizes billions of dollars, much of it diverted from international aid, to training, financing and supporting terrorist groups as militant proxies against it neighbours. She noted that the land of Taxila, one of the greatest learning centres of ancient times, "is now host to the Ivy League of terrorism" and attracts aspirants and apprentices from all over the world.

Now, it seems like PM Modi looked to expand on that remark as he referred to Pakistan’s close connection with global terror. He said that whenever a terrorist attack happens around the world you soon find out that the terrorist either has Pakistani connections, or terrorists go back to Pakistan (like Osama Bin Landen) to ‘settle down’. In his speech, PM Modi also hinted at Ahmad Khan Rahami's case, the New York City bomber who had travelled to Pakistan four times between 2005 and 2014.

In a blunt warning to Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Uri attack will not be forgotten as he accused it of conspiring to spill blood across Asia by exporting terror. Launching a blistering attack on Pakistan in his first public address after last Sunday's deadly terror attack, he said the sacrifice of 18 soldiers will not go in vain while all out efforts will be made to isolate that country globally. "Terrorists should hear out clearly that India will never forget the Uri attack... I want to tell the leadership of Pakistan that the sacrifice of our 18 jawans will not go in vain," Modi told a largely-attended public meeting on the Kozhikode beach held on the sidelines of the BJP national council meet.

He said while countries in Asia are working to make the 21st century Asia's, Pakistan is engaged in a conspiracy of causing bloodshed across the continent by sponsoring terrorism and killing innocents.Asserting that Pakistan was behind terror incidents in Afghanistan, Bangladesh besides India, he said "across the world wherever a terrorist incident happens you will find that either terrorists had gone from there (Pakistan) or come to live there like Osama-bin Laden." He indicated that India's efforts will be directed at isolating Pakistan diplomatically, saying it has already succeeded in this regard and will speed up measures in this regard.

The Prime Minister, who has been having meetings with top ministers, BJP leaders and service chiefs in the last few days, however, did not spell out the nature of what India's response would be. Modi said India had never bowed to terror and will never do so in future and will strive to defeat it. "India has never bowed to terrorism, nor will it ever. It will pause only after defeating it," he said.

"Across the world wherever a terror incident happens you will find that either terrorists had gone from there (Pakistan) or have settled there after committing the crime like Osama bin Laden," Modi said, referring to the al Qaeda leader.

He said every country is holding one nation responsible for terrorism as only that country in Asia is a safe haven for terrorists. "This is the only country engaged in exporting terror across the world," he said. Modi said there were 17 attempts by fidayen attackers sent by the neighbouring country which have been defeated by brave Indian soldiers who have neutralised over 110 terrorists which is the highest in recent years.

"Terrorism is the enemy of humanity. Humanitarians all over the world have to unite and condemn terror," he said.

With terror attacks sparking security concerns in the country, Modi assured countrymen that India was safe and 125 crore people took pride in the valour and bravery of its soldiers and security personnel. "Our soldiers have saved the country from these potentially devastating incidents. The 125 crore people of India are proud of our soldiers, their valour and sacrifices. "The neighbouring country succeeded in one attempt and killed our 18 soldiers. You can imagine how much of destruction would have been caused across the country had it succeeded in 17 others," he said.

"Arms are just toys for soldiers and their real strength is the morale of the country," he said, adding the country's morale is high. Acknowledging that there is an atmosphere of anger in the country over the attack, Modi accused the "rulers" in Pakistan of reading out the scripts written by patrons of terrorists, an apparent reference to its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's speech at the United Nations. Modi also reached out to the people of Pakistan and asked them to question their government as to why it keeps talking about Kashmir and misleads them when it cannot handle PoK, Baluchistan and Gilgit and recalled how it could not handle Bangladesh, which was once its part. "The leaders of the neighbouring country who read out scripts written by terrorists are singing the Kashmir song.

Today from here, I want to talk to people of Pakistan directly. I want to remind them that before 1947, your forefathers had saluted this land," he said. "Pakistan's public should ask its leaders as to why despite getting Independence together what is the reason India exports software and Pakistan exports terrorism." Lashing out at the neighbouring country, Modi said its leaders used to say that they will fight for 1000 years with India and wondered where they were now. "I accept this challenge. I want to tell you that India wants to fight with Pakistan. If you have the courage then why not fight to end poverty, unemployment, illiteracy. Let us see which country wins, India or Pakistan," he said. He said his government will strive hard to end poverty and make India prosperous as envisioned by Jan Sangh founder Deen Dayal Upadhyay whose centenary celebration starts tomorrow.

Rafale On Par With F-35, A Generation Ahead of F-16 Jets: Eric Trappier

The Rafale deal has been long in the making, with the NDA govt scrapping the original 2007 project and going for direct purchase of 36 Rafales. Dassault CEO Eric Trappier talked to TOI . Excerpts:

What does Rafale bring to India ? 

The number one reason for the success (in the deal going through) is its capabilities. The aircraft's performance was evaluated by the skilled IAF in different conditions here (during the MMRCA project evaluation).It has the capability to do everything. It's a good air-to-air combat aircraft, a strike aircraft, a reconnaisance and intelligence aircraft. It is good for all types of missions designed for the French forces, including from aircraft carriers. This was totally in line with what IAF wanted.

You said the negotiations were tough. What are the advantages for India on the price front, or on the technology front?

The negotiations were really tough on the price. I will not say how much as that is part of the discussion between the two governments. This is an inter-government deal.As far as 50% offsets... they (India) have been able to get more from us.

I feel this happened because of the confidence in the long partnership between India and France, between IAF and Dassault. India is proud about the first (Dassault) fighters it acquired in 1953 and later, the Mirage-2000s. When you are speaking defence, you don't want to have just a good deal. You want a good plane. A good fighter, because this part of the world might sometimes be dangerous. You don't deal with security lightly.

Is there any reference to the Rafale being nuclear capable?

It is totally in line with the French definition and more than that, we have been developing specifications that were required by the IAF. But basically it is the same system as for France.

And the French Rafales are nuclear capable?

That is something specific to France.

There have been questions on the high costs. It is said India can buy three Russian Sukhois for one Rafale.

Yes, maybe Rafale is more expensive. But those who know about fighters also know that Rafale is much more capable than a Sukhoi... in terms of survivability and all combat roles. The Russian aircraft are good, no doubt.But when your air force will have the Rafale, they will be happy to have it in their inventory, just like the Mirage-2000s which are the backbone of IAF.

Rafale is more a competitor for the F-35. We are a generation ahead of the F 16.

How did the negotiations change with the current government taking office since the MMRCA project was deadlocked?

I think they (Modi government) took a decision to reduce the number of aircraft but go ahead with the deal. We want fighters to be delivered, you need a CCO (contract change order). It is this government that decided. They signed the deal. They made this deal a reality.

Do you think India will go in for more orders?

We will work on it. As a manufacturer I will like to sell more. But I am satisfied with this contract. We will work with our Indian colleagues to develop the local industry here.

What does this deal mean for the India-France strategic partnership?

It is between the governments. A strategic partnership is more than an aircraft deal. I can only comment on the aircraft. The partnership is at a political level, it is more than good, we are real partners.

What about the 50 per cent offsets condition... which are the areas that can be developed?

India is already a leading country in software. We would like to take advantage of this. It is time to develop equipment. It can be a success story. Dassault is at the top in digital processes. This is a must to address the worldwide market.

There are fears about India-France defence projects after the Scorpene data leak.

I am sure the leak is being investigated. About Dassault, I will say security is a very serious matter. We have protected ourselves but zero risk does not exist.

Rafale Deal Paves Way For India-France Strategic Partnership For Next 40 Years: Jean-Yves Le Drian

India and France have had long-standing defence ties, which continue with the ongoing Scorpene submarine project and the Mirage-2000 upgrade program, and now the Rafale deal . French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian tells TOI that the bilateral ties will touch new heights in the years ahead. Excerpts:

The Rafale deal has been long in the making, from the MMRCA project to the now direct acquisition of 36 fighters. Your thoughts on this?

France maintains very strong and warm relations with India, which have always been based on trust. One of its cornerstones is our strategic partnership. It is a solid and dynamic partnership, of which the Rafale is a major and emblematic project. It is a strong commitment for the next 40 years. Naturally, finalising a project on such a scale required some amount of time. What matters is the result: an agreement that paves the way for unprecedented industrial and technological cooperation between our two countries, including the 'Make in India' in which French companies will be fully involved.

There have been persistent questions on the high costs of the deal as well as France's refusal to give sovereign guarantee for the contract.

I don't share this opinion on high costs. The Rafale's maintenance and operation costs are extremely competitive. In fact, that's why it won the earlier MMRCA tender. I can see this every day as the defence minister of a country that uses more than 100 of these aircraft. I would also like to point out that the Rafale's fleet availability rate is superb.

How will India benefit from the Rafale deal? Are you looking to sell more Rafales after the first 36?

The Rafale, I am not shy to say, is really the best fighter jet in the world. With the Rafale you can conduct all kinds of missions — and simultaneously at that. They are what we call 'omnirole' aircraft. The recent military operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali as well as in Iraq and Syria against Daesh/IS have demonstrated its remarkable performance. It will be a formidable defence asset for decades to come, and we will continue to upgrade it as and when new technologies emerge. It's really up to India to decide whether it wishes to pursue more acquisitions. If India so wishes, we will be happy to support it.

The massive leak of confidential data in the Scorpene submarine project has cast a big shadow on India-France military projects.

This leak is due to a malicious act. An inquiry has been instituted in France and all means are being used to bring the truth to light as fast as possible. We are, of course, cooperating closely and in all transparency with the Indian authorities.

All the stakeholders concerned — from the manufacturer, DCNS, to Indian and French authorities — have immediately taken action to limit the impact of this incident. The injunction DCNS obtained from Australian courts helped halt circulation of the documents. The documents that have been published, old and commercial in nature, don't contain any information on the security of the submarines. Our defence cooperation with India goes back many decades. We have been able to forge a very strong relationship that individuals with malicious intent cannot undermine.

Tell us about the overall strategic partnership between India and France, and its prospects in the future.

India and France are united by a long-standing, loyal friendship, based on shared values and a strategic partnership in the true sense of the term. France was the first country to have concluded a strategic partnership with India in 1998, and since, we have ceaselessly strengthened and deepened our relationship, including during critical periods like the crises of the nuclear tests and the Kargil war.

Such is the degree of trust we have attained with India that it enables us to cooperate on very sensitive matters like defence, civil nuclear energy, space, counter-terrorism, cyber security etc.

In all these areas, India and France have considerable projects underway. I'd also like to mention the construction of six EPRs in Jaitapur, which was confirmed during the state visit of President Hollande in January. Negotiations are progressing well. We also have common ambitions in the Indian Ocean. France has always considered India to be a vital partner for stability and security in the region. Our cooperation on maritime security is really substantive and we intend to make it flourish.

The key to our strategic partnership is that we know that we can count on each other, even in the toughest times. This is particularly true of the fight against terrorism, a scourge that afflicts both our countries.

France has most firmly condemned the terrible attack against an Indian Army camp in Uri on September 18. We want to see decisive action taken, in accordance with international law, against terrorist groups that target India, particularly Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizbul-Mujahideen.

Congress Blames Centre Over Russia's Military Exercise With Pakistan

Former Union Defence Minister AK Antony

NEW DELHI: Congress today squarely blamed the Modi government over Russia's decision to go in for a military exercise with Pakistan for the first time, terming it as a "failure" of India's foreign policy.

"First time in the history of Russia, they are having a joint military exercise with Pakistan. According to me, it is a failure of our foreign policy," former Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters.

At the outset, Antony recalled that from the time of Independence, Russia continued to be "our dependable friend".

"Whenever Kashmir issue was raised in the UNSC, Russia always stood with India. Many a times they had vetoed also. Russian Armed forces always had a joint exercise with Indian Forces," he said.

After Independence, at no time, Russia had a joint exercise with Pakistan, and that is what is "significant", he said when told about Russia's clarification that it was not holding any anti-terror exercise with Pakistan in "so-called Azad Kashmir" or in any other "sensitive or problematic areas like Gilgit and Baltistan".

Party spokesman Manish Tewari said that Russia's decision showed that the Government of India does not have a policy towards Pakistan. "It is unfortunate and tragic," he said.

Congress leaders have been insisting for quite some time that Modi government's 'tilt' towards USA is resulting in countries like Russia distancing from India.

India, US Plan To Upgrade Their Already Intensive Military Combat Exercises

NEW DELHI: India and the US are planning to go in for a major upgrade of their bilateral combat exercises after inking the military logistics pact last month in tune with their "joint strategic vision" for the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region.

Defence ministry sources say the aim is to "further increase the scope and complexity" of bilateral military exercises and engagements "across the board", which will now be facilitated by the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) inked during defence minister Manohar Parrikar's visit to the US on August 29-30.

India, of course, is willing to further tighten the strategic clinch with the US, which has already bagged Indian defence contracts worth $15 billion just since 2007. But New Delhi remains reluctant to join any formal tri-lateral or quadrilateral security axis to counter China in the Asia Pacific or act as a "linchpin" in the ongoing "re-balance" of US military forces to the region.

"But we can learn a lot from the high-tech US armed forces in the exercises, ranging from complex mission planning and execution to operating in an increasingly digitised warfare environment. Conversely, they can learn from our battle and insurgency-hardened forces. LEMOA will further boost the interoperability," said an official.

After the upgrade in the annual top-notch Malabar naval war-games+ between India and the US, with Japan becoming a regular participant, for instance, the two countries are now kicking-off Navy-to-Navy discussions on anti-submarine warfare and submarine safety as well as a maritime security dialogue. Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, incidentally, is currently in the US for a sea power symposium.

On the land combat front, the plan is to "evolve" the Yudh Abhyas exercise into "a more complex, combined arms, divisional-level exercise". The 12th edition of Yudh Abhyas is currently underway at Chaubatia in Uttarakhand, with over 225 troops from each side honing their combat skills, as was earlier reported by TOI.

While infantry soldiers and Stryker combat teams from Fort Louis in the US are taking part in the exercise, India has fielded troops from the 12 Madras Regiment. Though the main focus is on counter-terrorism drills involving "a combined deployment at a brigade-level", deliberations are also slated on "air-ground integration, combined arms maneuver and targeting processes".

Similarly, the IAF is also going to step up its engagement with the USAF after taking part in the iconic Red Flag exercise at Alaska in April-May with eight Sukhoi-30MKI and Jaguar fighters, two IL-78 mid-air refuellers and two C-17 Globemaster-III strategic-lift aircraft.

Interestingly, at a time when the first-ever military exercise between Russia and Pakistan is creating waves in the region, around 250 Indian troops from the Kumaon Regiment are also now taking part in the Indra exercise with the Russian 50th Motorized Infantry Brigade at the Ussiriysk district of Vladivostok.

Though Russia has been India's long-standing defence supplier since the 1960s, the militaries from the two countries have not exercised with the same intensity as witnessed in the flurry of drills between India and the US over the last decade.

Two Men From PoK Working For JeM Arrested In Uri: Army

URI: Security forces have arrested two men from PoK who have been working for Pakistan-based terror outfit JeM and acting as guides for infiltrating groups along the Line of Control (LoC) in Uri sector in Kashmir, the Army said today.

"Security forces have arrested two PoK nationals who have been working for Jaish-e-Mohammed terror outfit and acting as guides for infiltrating groups along the Line of Control in Uri Sector," an army official said.

The official said the two men were apprehended in a joint operation by the Army and BSF close to the LoC on September 21. One of the arrested men is believed to have acted as a guide for the four JeM terrorists who attacked an Army base in Uri in Kashmir on Sunday.

"During the investigation, the individuals have revealed their identities as Ahasan Kursheed alias DC, a resident of Khaliana Kalan and Faisal Hussain Awan, a resident of Pottha Jahangir--both in PoK," the official said.

He said the duo was recruited two years ago by JeM and were guiding militants to infiltrate across the LoC.

The details provided by them are being examined and corroborated by the concerned agencies, the official said, adding the two men are now in the custody of the Army and are being interrogated.

The arrested men were initially believed to have told their interrogators that they had inadvertently crossed the LoC.

The arrest comes six days after the deadly attack by four heavily armed JeM terrorists in Uri in which 18 soldiers were killed. The four terrorists were also killed in the encounter.

China Assures Pakistan of Support In Case of Foreign 'AGGRESSION', Claims Media Report

LAHORE: China has assured Pakistan of its support in the event of any foreign "aggression" and also supported the country's stance on the Kashmir dispute, a media report has claimed.

Beijing conveyed the message during a meeting of its top diplomat in the provincial capital with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the Dawn reported.

"In case of any (foreign) aggression our country will extend its full support to Pakistan," Consul General of China in Lahore Yu Boren said in a press release by the Punjab Chief Minister's Office.

"We are and will be siding with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. There is no justification for atrocities on unarmed Kashmiris in (India)-held Kashmir and the Kashmir dispute should be solved in accordance with aspirations of the Kashmiris," the report quoted Yu as saying.

Diplomatic tension between India and Pakistan have been rising after the September 18 terror attack on an Army base in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 18 Indian soldiers.

India has blamed the attack on militants from Pakistan which has rejected allegations of its involvement.

Yu, who called on Shahbaz Sharif on Friday to felicitate him on his 65th birthday, discussed with him the situation developing in Kashmir and the progress being made on various projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

A portion of the $46 billion CPEC passes through a part of the disputed region because of which India has raised objections over the project.

America Must Stand by India—and Pressure Pakistan: C Christine Fair

Washington’s Mistake Is Indulging Pakistan’s Bad Behavior, While Putting The Squeeze On India.

by C Christine Fair

This week, Pakistan-backed militants attacked a military base in Uri, Kashmir. It was the deadliest attack that India has suffered in decades. It has come after months of Pakistan-backed unrest in Kashmir following the killing of a well-known Pakistan-backed terrorist commander, Burhan Wani, by Indian security. Wani worked for the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), which the United States, the European Union and India have designated as a terrorist organization. Pakistan’s civilian-led government denounced his killing as “deplorable and condemnable” in yet another exhibit of Pakistan’s wanton and indefatigable support of terrorism. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif debased himself by praising the terrorist on the floor of the United Nations during his address to the General Assembly, calling him a symbol of the Kashmiri “intifada.”

Unfortunately, this attack at Uri is just another in a long string of incidents perpetrated by Pakistan’s terrorist proxies. And it won’t be the last. The United States must act fast to demonstrate to India and Pakistan where its loyalties and sympathies lie. It must offer its unstinting support to India, while offering unreserved condemnation of Pakistan for its continued use of terrorism as a tool of statecraft.

Many Indians Doubt the U.S. Commitment To India

The world’s oldest and the world’s largest democracy have worked long and hard to overcome Cold War antagonisms. Efforts led by President Ronald Reagan and Prime Ministers Indira and Rajiv Gandhi failed, over American fears that India would share technology with the Soviet Union. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, a new opportunity space began to open, but doubts lingered on both sides. President Bill Clinton renewed American overtures with the so-called Strategic Dialogue in 1997, which was to culminate in the president’s visit in May 1998. India’s nuclear test that month made that visit impossible; Clinton’s nonproliferation commitments limited the degree to which the two states could forge a rapprochement. Ironically, India’s nuclear test galvanized the most sustained bilateral dialogue, led by Strobe Talbott and Jaswant Singh. One of the outcomes of that engagement was that the United States developed a significant understanding of India’s strategic imperatives.

President Bush came into office in 2001 with a different view about the nonproliferation regime. He withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and India was the first country to throw support behind the controversial move. The Bush White House, with the intellectual steering of Ashley Tellis and the ambassadorial heft vested in Robert Blackwell, sought to offer India a civilian nuclear deal. The Americans were of the conviction that it was in the strategic interest of the United States to help India become a world-class military power, inclusive of robust nuclear capability. The Obama administration has worked with his counterparts, Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi, to continue deepening defense and security ties with India.

Despite this unprecedented progress, many Indians are wary of the United States. During this same period of profoundly transformed Indo-U.S. relations, the United States provided Pakistan with over $33 billion in assistance, lucrative reimbursement for its purported partition in the U.S.-led global war on terror and operations in Afghanistan. American assistance has included the provision of military platforms, most notably F-16 attack aircraft, which are more suitable to fight its next war with India than the militants Pakistan claims to be fighting. Indians are equally confused why the United States continues to endure Pakistan’s endless perfidy. After all, almost all of American deaths in Afghanistan are due to Pakistan’s proxy, the Afghan Taliban. Needless to say, the United States has lost the war in Afghanistan thanks to Pakistan’s unstinting support of the Taliban and allied fighters. Equally vexing for Indians is how the United States can claim to support India as a rising power, yet demur from coercing Pakistan to completely cease and desist its relentless use of terrorism as a tool of foreign policy.

Americans Habitually Pressure India And Indulge Pakistan

In the wake of past terrorist carnage, when the United States has feared that India would respond militarily, the Americans have inevitably used diplomatic pressure to ensure that India does not engage in provocative—much less—punitive initiatives. The Americans and their international partners habitually offer a well-worn course of counsel that includes urging India to temper its response, to engage in behaviors that will reassure Pakistan that no military threat is imminent and ultimately to counsel both parties to engage in dialogue to resolve outstanding disputes.

This course of actions rewards Pakistan in numerous ways. First and foremost, it shields Pakistan from the consequences of its illegal behavior time and time again. Second, and equally important, such advice suggests that the United States and the international community believe that there is a legitimate dispute and that both sides are equally culpable for the enduring nature of this dispute.

Americans must do a better job of learning history. There is no territorial dispute in Kashmir over which Pakistan has any defensible equities. Neither the Indian Independence Act of 1947 nor the Radcliffe Boundary Commission accord Pakistan any claim to Kashmir. The Indian Independence Act of 1947 averred that the sovereigns of princely states could choose which state to join. As is well-known, the Maharaja of Kashmir Hari Singh only acceded to India after Pakistan dispatched irregular forces to seize the terrain by force. In fact, Pakistan makes this claim based upon the Two-Nation Theory, its communally bigoted founding ideology. Thus, as I have argued in Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War, Pakistan’s claims to Kashmir are almost exclusively ideological.

In recent years, Pakistani civilian and military leadership continue to mendaciously insist that all UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir be fulfilled. Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, frequently opines that “non-implementation of UN Security Council resolutions pertaining to the Kashmir issue is a travesty of law.” More recently, at the United Nations General Assembly, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif submitted to the august gathering that:

The Security Council has called for the exercise of the right to self-determination by the people of Jammu and Kashmir through a free and fair plebiscite held under UN auspices. The people of Kashmir have waited 70 years for implementation of this promise. The Security Council must honour its commitments by implementing its own decisions. This General Assembly must demand that India deliver on the commitments its leaders solemnly made on many occasions.

These insentient demands advanced by Sharif, Lodhi and other Pakistanis are flatly disingenuous and advanced on the assumption that bystanders to these rumpuses have never read the deified resolutions. I have, and the language is clear. Pakistan was to first withdraw all non-Kashmiri persons from the area, including regular and irregular security forces. Then, and only then, India was to demilitarize as well. The resolution permitted India to retain adequate forces to safeguard against subsequent Pakistani intrusions. Once both of these sequential steps were taken to the satisfaction of a UN-appointed body, then the arrangements for a plebiscite were to take place. Thus Pakistan—not India—is the culpable party. Moreover, as Pakistani diplomats well know, these resolutions were long ago obviated by the Simla Accord, which formally ended the 1971 war. The 1972 Simla Accord bound both India and Pakistan to resolve any outstanding disputes bilaterally.

Shifting The Paradigm

The United States, in light of historical facts and Pakistan’s enduring commitment to use illegal means to prosecute ill-founded grievances, should take a different approach. First, when Pakistani officials raise the issue of Kashmir, American officials should tell them forthrightly that such performances are not dignified and will not be tolerated. Hopefully other international actors will follow suit.

Second, the United States needs to cease pressing Delhi to continue enduring Pakistan’s every outrage. Admittedly, during this crisis the United States has avoided many—but not all—of past pitfalls. The State Department did not make the usual calls for “dialogue.” Unfortunately, Secretary Kerry, while reiterating “the need for Pakistan to prevent all terrorists from using Pakistani territory as safe havens, while commending recent efforts by Pakistani security forces to counter extremist violence” perpetuated the false equivalence by averring “the need for all sides to reduce tensions." Such statements conflate the victim (India) with the perpetrator (Pakistan).

Third, the United States should appreciate—rather than take for granted—India’s long-standing, if perpetually strained, policy of strategic restraint. Recently, India announced that it will seek to diplomatically isolate Pakistan from all forums. The United States should aid this effort in every way, including laying out clear steps that Pakistan must undertake to avoid being labeled a state sponsor of terror. (The United States should have done this long ago.)

Fourth, the United States should formally change its position on Kashmir. Officially, the United States recognizes this as a dispute. This is a holdover from the distant past. Moreover, the United States should work with other members of the United Nations Security Council to formally anachronize these resolutions about the plebiscite. Pakistan’s force structure in the disputed area is robust, rendering the first requirement of the plebiscite moot.

Fifth, the United States must work with greater alacrity to expand the persons who can be designated under UN Security Council Resolution 1267. Individuals so listed cannot travel, cannot have a back account, and are not entitled to possess weapons. Admittedly, the third deprivation cannot be enforced when they enjoy state sanctuary like that provided by Pakistan. No doubt, China will bleat about such concerted efforts to list persons associated with Pakistan’s terror apparatus, because China is Pakistan’s proxy on the security council. The United States should not endure this; China must be persuaded that it is not to China’s international standing to continue defending the indefensible. As it is, China’s behavior in the international system shows little regard for international norms of behavior. China’s complicity in protecting Pakistan’s terrorists requires greater political and diplomatic pressure by all members of the security council.

Finally, if India decides to respond by force, the United States should support India. Rather than using its diplomatic weight to persuade India to accept yet another attack in which Indians are killed, the United States should counsel restraint by Pakistan. Should India decide to engage in hot pursuit across the Line of Control in Kashmir, or engage in air operations to degrade terrorist infrastructure and its support of personnel and amenities in the Pakistan armed forces, the United States should encourage Pakistan to accept this incursion as just deserts.

In anticipation of a potential Indian retaliation, Pakistan is once again brandishing nuclear threats. The United States should take a clear stand that should Pakistan use nuclear weapons against India, India will not be left alone to respond. To do otherwise is to demonstrate to Indians that the United States in fact doesn’t value the thousands of Indian lives that Pakistan’s proxies snuff out with impunity. This impunity must end.

C. Christine Fair is an associate professor at Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program and a visiting fellow at IDSA. Most recently she is the author of Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War and co-editor of Pakistan’s Enduring Challenges.

Congress Attacks BJP For Buying Only 36 Rafale Jets

New Delhi: The Congress on Saturday attacked the BJP-led central government for buying only 36 Rafale fighter jets from France instead of the 126 finalised during the UPA era, saying the situation for the Indian Air Force (IAF) was becoming "critical and volatile".

"During the UPA (United Progressive Alliance), we had planned to buy 126 aircraft to strengthen the IAF. Now that has been reduced to 36 aircraft," Congress leader AK Antony told reporters here.

"As per IAF, 126 was the minimum requirement for their urgent operational requirements," Antony said.

"Sanctioned strength of fighter jets in the IAF is 42 squadrons, and of late, the situation was becoming critical and volatile. The IAF needs more squadrons, current availability of fighter jets is 32 squadrons and by 2022 this will reduce to 25," the former Defence Minister said.

"What is the government`s plan? How will they bridge the gap with respect to China and Pakistan, who are building up their air strength?" Antony asked.

The Congress leader`s remarks come a day after India signed a 7.87 billion euros (about Rs 59,000 crore) deal with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets that will meet the IAF`s critical operational requirement for a multi-role combat aircraft and enhance its strategic reach, especially in Pakistan`s context.

"Today we read inspired pieces in some media, which claim the present government has saved money by hard negotiations. That`s not true," Antony said.

"The UPA government was not able to enter into a final contract. Price negotiations were going on," he added.

Citing the complaints of several leaders regarding the high price of Rafale jets, the Congress leader said, "That time I received series of complaints from many responsible quarters including former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha about the price."

"They said, the price is `highly escalated and inflated, even cost is very high, exorbitantly high` and so on. When I got these complaints I asked the ministry that they will finalise the contract only after all complaints are thoroughly examined," Antony added.

"I said this complaint about `life cycle cost` from very senior politicians should be thoroughly examined by Finance Ministry before we sign contract"," the Congress leader argued.

"When there was a complaint about high prices we decided to inquire and wait for the final decision of Finance Ministry," he said, adding, "So you can`t compare the Rafale deal price during UPA government`s time and now. This spreading of inspired news is not correct."

Antony also said that he did not want to comment on the present price before he knew the exact details. He also requested the government to publish the details of the final contract.

India had decided to ink the deal for 126 Rafale jets in 2012. The deal was estimated to cost $10.2 billion and the plan was to acquire 18 aircraft in fly-away condition and manufacture the rest in India.

However, during Modi`s visit to France in April 2015, India conveyed that it would like to acquire 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition as quickly as possible in view of the IAF`s critical operational necessity for the multi-role combat aircraft.

Commenting on comparing the price of the deal, the Congress leader said, "There is absolutely no basis in comparing price during UPA`s time and present price because the contract had not been finalised then."

Attacking the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for not considering the technology transfer of the fighter jets, Antony said, "We had said we will purchase only 18 from France, off-the-shelf and the remaining 108 will be produced in India with HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited)."

"So, the deal was, from abroad - 18 and Make in India - 108. That condition is gone in the present deal. `Make in India` is gone," he alleged.

"In our time there was a provision that technology transfer is a must. I understand there is no such condition in the present contract," Antony said, adding, "This will cost us very heavily."