“It has been said that most revolutions are not caused by revolutionaries in the first place but by the stupidity and brutality of governments”
-By Seán McStiofáin, the provisional IRA’s first Chief of Staff
Part 1 dealt with the historical ramifications of partition, international and regional security environment including the interventionist role of China, and examines if Pakistan will ever stop waging its proxy/hybrid war. Part II dealt with the range of both kinetic and non-kinetic options against Pakistan which would impose caution and induce Pakistan to stop the hybrid war. This part analyses the internal dimension of holistically integrating the UT of JK with India, which is the most pivotal and vital component, to resolve this complex and chronic issue; To Fight Externally Win Internally First.
Background to Internal Integration. The quote above, while hard-hitting and difficult to digest, is a fundamental truth and introspection by the Indian polity is a must for bringing about a radical change in our strategy in the UT of J&K. The biggest battle to win to prevent Pakistan from interference in UT of J&K, is to win the hearts and minds of the people. While it is often stated that the ‘centre of gravity’ to resolve the insurgency in UT of J&K (henceforth referred to as J&K) are the people, one feels that it is axiomatic and more important to know and understand how and what to do. It is strongly recommended that two aspects should be addressed primarily; first, eradicate/demystify the notion of ‘Azaadi’ from the heart and minds of the people, that it is impractical, non-achievable and not desirable; second, convince the populace that people belonging to J&K are more aligned with the history, culture, Kashmiriyat and Sufism, social ethos and ways of life with the other citizens of India, and concurrently life in Pakistan is alien to them, as they will be misfits and second class citizens there, apart from a much poorer quality of life. A very challenging and tall order indeed especially in the face of resentment that the average Kashmiri feels towards India and the onslaught of a radical Sunni Islam on the foundations of an ingrained and easy-going Sufi order.
Failure to Detect and Counter Hybrid Operations of Pakistan. In Part II, we saw Pakistan changing its concept of operations from a proxy war to a ‘Peoples Hybrid Movement’. This entailed adopting a multi-domain (MD) hybrid war using both kinetic and non-kinetic means with a larger focus on the cognitive and non-cognitive domains of PDIME (political, diplomatic, informational, military, economic) and emphasis on IIO and PSYOPS. Pakistan has realized that wars and terrorism alone, has not achieved results, but earned the country lots of ignominies, which is being exploited by India. So, Pakistan’s focus has turned to a sinister political/societal/religious/communal upheaval in Valley and mainland India. Amplifying further, while acknowledging Pakistan’s change of tactics as a shift to an ‘agitational movement’ and continuously shifting priorities from terrorism to agitation based on Indian and international response, we have failed to recognize the contours of a much larger holistic ‘Hybrid Warfare’ being conducted. Acceptance of this is the first step leading to a synergized national response plan, which could have decentralized pro-active and reactive actions. The pattern stitched over a period of time clearly discernible are: –
Sound and Good Intentions: However, Working in Silos. The resolution of the Kashmir issue and prevention of Pakistan’s proxy war has been engaging policy for decision-makers, at all levels and across domains for decades. The fact, however unpleasant to hear is that all the actors involved while harping on a ‘dynamic whole of the nation, all-encompassing approach’ are ‘happy to work in their silos’. Be it the politicians, diplomats, bureaucrats, intelligence agencies, Army, CAPFs and JKP. So also, international institutions (UN, OIC, SCO), allies and other nations as well as the various groups in the Valley. Their response and actions (ironically, even Pakistan) have been predictable and standard. A ‘New India’ revolutionary approach is needed for lasting resolution and peace. One aspect which stands out is the fact that Pakistan and Kashmir have become a national obsession and a major ‘breaking news and TRP’ booster for the media. With ever-increasing MD asymmetry between India and Pakistan, especially economic, India must carry on with its India Dream keeping Pakistan as just a minor irritant/pinprick by gradually persuading media, along with low key political responses to ‘ignore Pakistan’; while working silently on the larger picture, which in itself will reduce the problem psychologically and on the ground. While the Chinese intervention and strategic collusion with Pakistan has made the hybrid game and responses even more complex, Pakistan’s adventurism will remain operational and not existential.
India’s Integration/Tri-Colour Movement in Valley
A Long Hard Road Ahead. Countering the above narratives becomes harder, as our democracy which comes with unique characteristics and advantages, is also a much easier playground to conduct hybrid warfare, given India’s myriad asymmetries, political, societal, communal and governing instabilities, which cannot be wished away. After introspection and interaction with colleagues[i], it is recommended that India has to launch a holistic, concerted, whole of India counter movement (Tri-Colour) to defeat the idea of secessionism, fundamentalism and terrorism in J&K. If this approach works it can be modified/adapted to suit other insurgencies in the North East and LWE (Left Wing Extremism). The good news first; the Valley is not fully subverted due to the malafide nature of Pakistan’s designs, treatment and quality of life of people of PoK; the power of social media which while playing a vital role in subversion, terrorism, and recruitment, also showcases the standing of Pakistan in the international community; the loyalty of J&K Police and a segment of local citizens; and the continued legal empowerment of Indian security forces. Pakistan is at its weakest geo-politically now. How far a road we have to travel can be gauged by the reactions of the people in the Valley regarding the ongoing standoff between India and China along the LAC in their erstwhile state; social media is abuzz with excitement and memes welcoming the Chinese. Despite knowing the track record of Chinese against the Muslim Uighurs, the locals at least outwardly are taunting rest of India, politicians, the security forces and JKP that the Chinese are coming and Xi Jinping will have tea in Dal Lake. Mr Omar Abdullah had to temporarily shut down his Twitter handle due to abusive trolls when he warned people what to expect from the Chinese citing the example of the Uighurs.
Concept of Operations. To execute a synergized national plan to simultaneously address Pakistan’s Hybrid War at the political, economic and societal level with a focus on the UT of J&K while simultaneously eradicating the very idea of secessionism (azaadi), radicalism and insurgency/terrorism, and integrate the people’s heart and minds with the rest of India. Convince the people of J&K that culturally, ethnically, historically (Kashmiriyat and Sufism), and for the future, their well-being lies in being aligned to India rather than with Pakistan.
Concept Drawn from Teachings and Practices of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela[iii]. The concept may appear revolutionary and to some will appear even outdated, a form of appeasement and perhaps defeatist, but to create a genuine permanent rapprochement and assimilation, a total change of approach is required. Historian BR Nanda explaining the ways, means and ends of non-violent movements said: “Satyagraha was not designed to seize any particular objective or to crush the opponent, but to set in motion forces which would lead to a new equation, in such a strategy it (is) perfectly possible to lose all the battles but still win the war”. To elucidate, Nelson Mandela with a combination of ‘tolerance, non-violence, reconciliation and forgiveness, created history and transformed South Africa from a frontline state of apartheid, profound racial and social discrimination, deep-rooted insurgency and acts of terrorism (Mandela himself was a militant and so adopted more pragmatic and practical processes) to a modern egalitarian society where people of all colour and race live gracefully and with dignity. Recently the action of ‘Take a Knee’ by white US policemen to diffuse the ‘#Black Lives Matter’ movement is a good example of a smart Satyagrahic movement aimed at hearts and minds. Main pillars/ingredients of the concept are: –
Apex Governing Body of Operation Integration/Tri-Colour. Statesmanship, Statecraft and Vision of the highest order are required to implement the Tri-Colour Integration movement in the UT of J&K. We are fortunate to have a stable government at the helm, and there will be continuity at least till 2024. Good governance in all its facets is a sina qua non for success, and focus here will be on planning, preparation and implementation of the ‘Integration Movement’. ‘Setting the Stage’ should be done during the coming winter months, and implementation can commence from Apr/May 2021, with an initial timeline given for visible results as summer of 2024. The CCS needs to approve the concept and broad contours and timelines of implementation, as also carry out periodic monitoring. The opposition parties need to be taken on board in the interest of national security and prosperity. The ‘overdependence on bureaucracy needs to be shed’ and a fresh, mission focussed group of patriots who are a mix of domain experts (technocrats, diplomats, armed forces and para-military personnel, administrators) need to drive the Transformation. A political figure (only, and not a diplomat, bureaucrat or military professional) of stature, impeccable integrity and credentials should head the ‘Transformation and Implementation’ Body at the Centre to oversee the ‘Whole of Nation’ approach (deliberately MHA has not been given the responsibility being a multi-domain whole of nation operation, to cast away old and tired templates and mindsets, and to infuse new ideas and minds). Since the NSA and his institutions like NSCS are already fully committed, he should have an independent monitoring and executive Secretariat from all Ministries and the SF specially from the Army. A ‘go-getter’ and empathetic Lt Governor will oversee the actual implementation in the Valley. The current UHQ will provide an excellent initiating platform which can be modified based on domains activated. The ongoing operations of bringing the situation in the UT from public order to a law and order domain will continue, with targeted, surgical, counter-terrorist strikes with zero/minimum collateral damage and HR violations. Terrorist initiated incidents (TII) and appreciated number of terrorists in J&K while currently low have always waxed and waned. Low key counter-infiltration and counter-insurgency operations in all its dimensions will also continue in the background of the central theme of Satyagrahic movement, with negligible/nil media coverage. The plan emphasizes the non-kinetic, non-violent means to change the idea of azaadi to the integration with India, which should remain the focus under ALL circumstances despite violent disturbances or attempts by Pakistan to elicit a kinetic response. IIO and PSYOPS must focus on integration and NOT on Pakistan or TIIs (Terrorist Initiated Incidents). Broad contours of the plan are suggested below, and a detailed and overlapping plan with accountability, resource allocation (fiscal and HR) and timelines can be drawn up.
Preparing the Stage. Till a holistic national plan is prepared and stage set for execution, actions which are ongoing and can be implemented are highlighted below.
Shape the Environment. Targeting different segments to shape people’s beliefs and de-radicalise ideologues, youth and fence-sitters. This is the key, which requires expertise, detailed study, planning to have nuanced messages for specific targets, with timelines and reviews, and most importantly resources (fiscal, HR, and media tools).
Contours of the Integration/Tri-Colour Plan.
Main and Secondary Objectives. The focus will remain the transformation of the idea of azaadi and planting integration. People’s minds are the primary objective and not CI/CT and security operations. This requires a transformation in everyone’s approach. The main targets will be the anti-national bastions (leaders, institutions including social and local print media, judiciary, and towns/areas) and secondary targets remain the terrorists and OGWs.
Concurrent and Phased Multi-Domain Approach
Pakistan is unlikely to change its spots and will continue to indulge in state-sponsored terrorism against India. Ironically, it is hurting Pakistan more, given the internal security and public order situation, international approbation, economic costs, loss of democratic values, the rise of fundamentalism and fractured Islamic fabric. India needs to employ all means within its CNP to prevent it, if it wants to break out from the confined strategic space of South Asia, to reach its deserved status in the world polity. While a ‘whole of nation’ multi-domain, the multi-dimensional overlapping approach appears to be the answer as enumerated, it is emphatically stated that the pivotal/vital ingredient is to first put our own house in J&K in order. For this, a ‘Satyagrahic MD approach’ to eradicate the idea of ‘azaadi’ and replacing it with the idea of Tri-colour integration has been propounded, which provides hope of deliverance. It is going to be a long hard road as changing ideas and minds is expected to be, but this approach is most likely to provide long-lasting peace, development and integration, allowing India to focus on ‘New India’ a confident, mature, balancing power of the World.
[i] Discussions with armed forces and even civilian colleagues and friends (probability of ‘out of box’ suggestions higher). Had a few sessions with Brig Vishwas Rao, SM.
[ii] Multiple definitions and explanations available online. From Internation Committee of the Red Cross. Link-https://www.icrc.org/en/war-and-law/ihl-other-legal-regmies/jus-in-bello-jus-ad-bellum
[iii] Drawn from own conviction based on J&K tenures and staff appointments at Northern Command (Col GS of Div in Valley, Commander of an LC Brigade, BGS and MGGS Operations) and as DGMO; and periodic discussions with colleagues and Brig Vishwas Rao, SM.
[iv] Andrew Glazzard & Alastair Reed, “Beyond Prevention: The Role of Strategic Communications Across the Four Pillars of Counterterrorism Strategy,” The RUSI Journal, 21 February 2020. Available at https://www.tandfonline.com