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India's New Counter-Terror Vision By: Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin
Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin | Thursday, October 02, 2003

Last week India's Cabinet Committee on Security decided to add new missile groups to the existing operational units.

In response the army announced the immediate formation of missile unit 334. The unit will be equipped with the Indian-manufactured 700-kilometer missile Agani-1. A second new unit to be formed will be numbered 335, equipped with the 1,500-kilometer Agani-2 missiles.

The decision to increase the number of missile units is of significance to the subcontinent's defense balance, as it will double the total field deployment of India's missile force. Earlier units were the Prithvi missile batteries, with three different models, designed to reach targets 150-300 kilometers away. The Indian army undertook a number of structural changes, including the elimination of some regular units and shifting responsibilities from the traditional to modern high- tech formations to meet, what an Indian officer called: "The challenge of the 21st century."

The announcement in New Delhi came in the wake of Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit. The event was highlighted in the Asian media as being highly important to India's defense. Shortly after the visit, the government announced that a plan for a joint India-Israel venture to develop a new generation of missiles was agreed upon. The Indian Milli Gazette, the leading English-Muslim newspaper in the country, published information about agreements between the two countries, stating they are worth over $2.5 billion. The Israeli daily Haaretz, confirmed these figures stating: "Israel will supply India, among others, with the 'green pine' radar," hinting the system, capable of detecting ballistic missile attacks from hundreds of kilometers away, has already been deployed. Other highly sophisticated and classified systems, offered and supplied by Israel, will be included in future agreements. The importance of those deals can be measured also through expressions of concern voiced by Russian experts, claiming Israel is now the main competitor in advanced technology to Russia's military deals in the Indian subcontinent.

The announcement in New Delhi sent shockwaves through the region, most of all to Pakistan. President Pervez Musharaf reacted with dismay, calling upon the Bush administration to prohibit Israeli-Indian arms deals and any future plans for joint military ventures between the two countries. Diplomatic sources in Washington said President Musharaf's pleas were just short of begging. However, Musharaf failed to convince President Bush of what he regards as a necessity to weaken India or to obstruct any cooperation between India and Israel. An Israeli official speaking to G2B under the condition of anonymity said: "Pakistan used a third party to caution Israel on the same issue." He also said that earlier this year Israel was ready to open a dialogue with Pakistan, an initiative made in a "fishing remark" by the Musharaf administration. This was almost immediately rejected by radical forces in Pakistan, who forced the president to backtrack.

The Pakistani president, forced to abandon his policy of nonchalance toward Israel, is now also disappointed by lack of support from the U.S. Searching for sympathy elsewhere Musharaf, during the U.N. General Assembly, and during a meeting on international terrorism, pursued the support of Secretary General Kofi Annan. Annan played into Musharaf's hands by suggesting the old cliché of "countries have to deal with the underlying reasons for terrorism." The Pakistani president was also a keynote speaker at the international conference Fighting Terrorism for Humanity. This event was organized by Norway and the International Peace Academy. The conference received the blessing of the general secretary, who regarded it as a step in the right direction. Musharaf addressed delegates from 20 countries, including the Arab League states, Palestinian Authority, Afghanistan, Israel and more. In his speech, Musharaf said: "Short term actions against terrorism must be accompanied by a long-term strategy, otherwise the war against terrorism will fail."

In addition to this opinion, President Musharaf called for recognition of "legitimate movements for self-determination such as the Muslim militants in Kashmir and the Palestinians, who, according to him, are not terrorists. The Pakistani leader called upon India to enter a dialogue, stressing there is no such thing as militant Islam or militant Muslims. He went on to say that only a few could be described as such and added the same could be said about "Christians, Hindu and Jewish militants." Addressing the issue of 9/11 and al-Qaida, which for years enjoyed Pakistani patronage, Musharaf had this to say: "We have to look beyond al-Qaida to the breeding grounds of terrorism. What motivates a suicide bomber to take his own life and kill innocent civilians ... in order to eliminate terrorism we must understand the causes."

Snapping at the U.S. role in Iraq, Musharaf criticized "foreign occupation and the suppression of rights of people to self-determination which is a direct cause for suicide bombing and terrorist acts to flow from the sense of despaired." At the end of his speech, as members of the Arab League and the Palestinian Authority, voiced their support, Musharaf proclaimed: "No foreigner, no terrorist will be allowed to use our soil for plotting or launching attacks from Pakistan." None of the participants used the opportunity to remind the Pakistani ruler that, as he was speaking, Pakistani-based terrorists and guerrillas were active in the Jammu Kashmir region. Even more disturbing is the fact that during his speech those same militants were also in Afghanistan fighting U.S. and coalition troops.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

As President Musharaf was voicing his views on terrorism, world and regional peace, India's Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was also in New York. The Indian head of state decided to use the inaugural address of the Asia Society in New York, to counter Musharaf and to deliver what he called "a four-pronged strategy to counter terrorism." The most important idea in his speech was the notion countries "should not be drawn into the gray zone of conflicting policy objectives, which condone ambiguous positions on terrorism." According to Vajpayee democracies should be working together in a manner whereby a threat to one is regarded as a threat to all of them. A consistent approach, and the same high standards, should be required by all to counter terrorism. Vajpayee went on to recommend democracies should expand "the ideals of freedom, democracy, rule of law and tolerance," so that humanity can attain the highest possible goals of well being and security.

Diplomats in the U.N., weighing the impact of the two speeches, said that while President Musharaf had tried to appease the Muslim world by minimizing the threat of global jihad and Islamic militancy, the Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee introduced views much closer to those of the U.S. Others said Vajpayee voiced the old, almost forgotten, American policy of "walk softly and carry a heavy stick." As the two leaders were attending the General Assembly in New York, the Delhi Cabinet Committee on Security publicized its decision to double the size of India's missile force. The timing of this announcement is not to be taken as a coincidence. Quite the opposite. India chose to rebuff Pakistan, almost to the point of embarrassment, by declaring her philosophic vision on deterring terrorism and, at the same time, announcing her superior military capability to discourage any threat.

The State Department's reaction to the two speeches in New York is unclear. Nor is it possible to determine what, if any, recommendation the National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, presented to President Bush and his administration. The war of words in the Indian subcontinent, accompanied by an arms race, is probably inconvenient to the U.S., pre-occupied as it is with Iraq and Afghanistan. Most analysts suggest the U.S. should continue to listen to a variety of opposing opinions coming from the subcontinent, weighing the pros and cons as they correspond to U.S. necessities. Pakistani panicky reactions, as demonstrated in Musharaf's recent pleas to the U.S., need not cause any alarm. From a strategic point of view U.S. presence in Pakistan has become less vital to the war in Afghanistan as other options have evolved in Central Asia. On the other hand, Pakistan is significant in the hunt for al-Qaida and other Islamic terrorists whose presence in the country is not only a global danger but also a threat to Musharaf's regime. It is in his own interests to hunt them down as well and not only as service to the U.S.

In the short and long term, the conflict between Pakistan and India will demand forming a new U.S. strategy in the volatile region. The fact one country is constantly in danger of becoming part of the global jihad armed with a nuclear bomb should not be ignored. On the other hand, India is one of the largest non-Muslim Asian powers. India, being the world's largest democracy, is superior to the whole region in its military, scientific and socio-economic structure. This fact cannot be ignored by the U.S., which, during the Cold War-era drove India toward the Soviet bloc while embracing Pakistan.

Times have changed in Asia, and so did its key players. In an environment where weapons of mass destruction are available, there is an urgent need for the administration to reassess its policies. It would be prudent for the U.S. to emphasize the importance of the Indian subcontinent, surrounded with Islamic countries and nestled between the two giants -- Russia and the People's Republic of China.

Visit Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, your independent online intelligence resource, at http://g2.wnd.com/

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