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India’s challenge is to avoid two-front war, but can Modi put politics aside for strategy?

India must break out of strategic triangulation with China & Pakistan. Before that, it must decide if it’ll let domestic electoral interests limit its strategic options.

Illustration by Soham Sen
Illustration by Soham Sen | ThePrint

The disengagement at Pangong Tso has been completed in quick time. As new rounds of the corps commanders’ talks begin, you could also guardedly hope that the larger de-escalation is now a possibility.

It’s a good moment to pause to reflect on who’s won and/or lost what as relative peace becomes a more likely prospect than war. Our Northern Army Commander Lt Gen. Y.K. Joshi has already told us how close India and China were to a war during those fateful 48 hours when his troops climbed the dominating heights and key passes in the Pangong south bank and Kailash Range stretch west of Pangong-Moldo-Chushul.

A less reported event then was also the mountaineering-style climbs Indian units made on the higher reaches of the ‘fingers’ or the spurs on the north bank, from where they looked down at the Chinese on the more comfortable lower ground. It is also the oldest truism in mountain warfare that while lower may be more comfortable, it isn’t preferable.

Not used to being taken by surprise, the Chinese tried to “persuade” India to climb down.

The moves on the nights of 29 and 30 August last year, as part of the Indian Army’s ‘Operation Snow Leopard’, had restored the tactical balance.

We had known more about what happened on the Rechin La, Mukhpari and Rezang La features on the southern bank and west of it. But the even sharper exchanges higher up on the fingers remained unreported for some time. The viral picture of Chinese PLA soldiers up close and threatening Indian troops, armed with medieval spears and ‘guandaos’ — traditional Chinese pole weapons with a machete welded at the top — was from Mukhpari.

Three things had become clear by this time. First, that Indian troops were not about to go away. They were as well-clothed, fed and armed as the Chinese and the heavier equipment was very well-maintained.

Second, neither side wanted to escalate it into a skirmish. Even at the narrow passes — Rechin La is no more than a couple of hundred metres wide — the two sides deployed tanks within feet of each other. Like India-Pakistan sentries at the Wagah Border outpost. Tanks don’t fight that close. Even horse cavalries never got that close before the fighting began. It was a mere show of strength and a traffic block at my end, just in case you chose to come for a drive. When — and if — all this is over, we will look back at these pictures and laugh at the ridiculous spectacle of the world’s two most populous nations loaded with nuclear arsenals, confronting each other with tanks so close as if poised for head-butting.

And third, it was now a battle of attrition, fought with the weather, altitude, terrain and logistics. And the hardiness of the soldier on rival sides. The question was, let’s see who can last the winter in large numbers here.

The fact is, both did. It is then that the Chinese became amenable to de-escalation. Of course, the international and economic moves, the rise of the Quad, Joe Biden’s ringing endorsement of it, India dumping its hesitations of its strategic history, and a strengthening grouping of China’s victims, which I sometimes describe as ‘Cheen Peedit Samaj’, also played a role.


Also read: How Modi has made a ‘Nehruvian’ half-blunder on China & ignored investing in the military


On de-escalation, India and China have flattered to deceive more than once in the past nine months. So, predicting the outcome of this peace-making process, the most promising so far, is about as hazardous as betting on who will win in West Bengal this April.

Both countries now have public opinion and social media jingoism as an additional escalatory challenge. We see it in India with our commando-comic channels and Twitter. But, as China expert and a senior editor at The Hindu, Ananth Krishnan, points out, even Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, is buzzing with fury, particularly after the rival claims of Chinese casualties in Galwan. Both countries have the compulsion to tell their domestic constituencies they won. This will cast a shadow in the coming rounds of talks.

We can, however, try a more clinical analysis purely at the geostrategic level. Our knowledge is limited by the fact that we are still not sure why the Chinese came knocking at our doors so rudely in Ladakh last year.

Educated guesswork ranges from their wanting to convey a message after Article 370 was rendered inoperative and Ladakh declared a union territory at the one end, to repositioning India strategically from the Indian Ocean back to its land frontiers, or dissuading it from getting too close to America in the new Cold War. It could be a combination of all three. Did the Chinese achieve any of these objectives?

As we stand today, India is closer to the new US-led block against China and is probably the most important non-treaty bound nation there. Second, India and the other three, US, Japan and Australia, now seem even more firmly committed to the Quad. For removal of all doubts, check out the readouts of the four foreign ministers’ meeting Thursday. There were many, mostly the old conservatives, who grew up in the decades of the Cold War, who had hoped that once the Chinese were off our throats, India would distance itself from the Quad. This was naive in the extreme.

This brings us to areas where we do not have such clarity. How will this affect the strategic outlook to which India has evolved in the 21st century? China’s 2013 strategy paper, which just came into international attention as a US Air Force think-tank published it in full in English, tells us what the Chinese think. I had talked about this in ‘Cut The Clutter’, Episode 682.

They believe that with the economic boom post-1991, India now sees itself as more than a regional power and wants influence southwards into the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). That is because, the paper argues, India now feels secure on its land borders and rules out a war. Has this Ladakh excursion by the PLA changed that? By reminding India that its two-front land border threat has not gone away?

Will we now see India shift focus away from the Navy to land forces? We will know that in a year or so. But if that happens, it will be a Chinese gain. Similarly, through these nine fraught months, nobody who counts on the Indian side has talked of taking back Aksai Chin. Don’t be surprised if none does in some time to come. If that was China’s message, it has hit home. But I am not convinced it would have gone on such a dangerous adventure only for this.


Also read: Modi’s bid to sway China’s Xi with personal outreach was a big error. India’s paying for it


Finally, see the picture from India’s interest. For decades, our strategic thinkers have worried about the two-front situation. India can expand its defence budget, become a national security state like Pakistan (I hope not), the prospect of a two-front war is a nightmare, and winning it a fantasy. That’s why the big challenge for Indian political and strategic leadership is to avoid it.

Which brings us back to the old imperative: That India must break out of this strategic triangulation with China and Pakistan. And then the question: How to do it?

We need to settle our issues with one of the two. That’s why all our earlier governments made serious moves to make peace with China. But it is more logical to settle your problems with the country weaker than you, with more to gain from peace. That hasn’t worked. And now there is an additional problem.

The Modi government is our most political of all. In the sense that it weighs all policy in electoral terms. If so, it would need hostility with Pakistan to persist. Because Pakistan and pan-Islamic terrorism are the warp and weft in which electoral polarisation at home comes gift-wrapped.

That is the fundamental issue the Modi government will need to weigh. Will it let domestic political compulsions limit its strategic options, or have the confidence to change? Of course, it could do something more audacious and settle with China first. But then, we know who’s the stronger party in that negotiation.


Also read: India and US must know the new Cold War is a different beast – China isn’t USSR


 

64 COMMENTS

  1. Mr Shekhar 2 points(1) Terror to stop politics or non . Modi or No. (2) Pak ISI mindset with Imran (2.1) Pak public of late fed on Indiann progress detrimental besides India is anti Islam . (2.2) Appeasement is a point u continue to miss

  2. Mr Shekhar, 2 points (1) Voter aka citizen aka common man wants peace at both borders irrespective of u or Modi thinking otherwise . Regarding Modi belief I hasten to add I find it suiting my interest n so I vote alike. (2) Terror is priority and not political tool to be noted. (3) China land border is a threat . Politics not in this reality. (2)Nationalism wrt Pak is a priority as ISI infested mindset cant be ruled out with Imran Khan and growing section of voters in Pak jealous of seeing India rise

  3. This was the wrong to time to assert Indian power by the the revoking of Article 370. While it was disputed territory, there were no hot moves from China or Pak. , to change the status quo by force. But unilaterally claiming it is an internal affair, it was picking a fight with China and Pakistan.

    The geo-political, militarily and economic consequences of repealing Article 370 were not assessed. The repeal of Article 370 was typically done with the BJP’s Hindutva militancy style. The BJP had been misled to think that their success in beating up minorities in India and claiming it is an internal matter will work with China and Pakistan over J & K. Evidently it does not.

    Today’s war technology needs control of 6 spaces : land, air, sea, space, cyber and electromagnetic.

    China has control of all, and especially of the last two. India has possession of the first four but is only waking up to the need for the last two. Now India is up against it. With a shrinking economy, it is forced to spend on the military. And it cannot catch up on cyber and electromagnetic. If India can sail to South China Sea, China can out bases in Sri Lanka, Nepal, and soon BD will go.

    Pakistan is also now more confident, after it nuclearised. Chinese interests military and economic match Pakistan’s. In fact Xi had invited India to join the China-Pak economic projects. But it was against India’s ego – how come Pakistan is a party ?

    Now, having made such a blunder and being too stupid to even understand it, the BJP runs to Quad for succour. Quad can hold some exercises in the S. China Sea, but they cannot do anything for India on the LAC. The Quad was meant to be an alliance of democratic countries to counter Chinese dictatorship and hegemony. Australia, Japan, US, are democratic but now the Biden govt., sees there are question marks about India’s democratic credentials. India wants to be more like Mynamar. Hence, Quad is going nowhere. The US is trying to regain its democratic credibility but India’s presence in Quad raises a problem – for the US, not for China !

    China also has a democratic deficit. But it is stronger militarily and economically. It can and will tighten the pressure on the LAC and Pakistan will go with it. Shekhar Gupta senses the writing on the wall for India, but he cannot spell it out : India has created this problem for itself due to Amit Shah-Modi-RSS’s Hindutva belligerence. For a party with hot heads that hates intellectuals and the intelligent, this will be the outcome for India. In diplomacy and international relations, the Congress was far more sophisticated.

  4. The Shekhar Guptas of the world belong to the camp of blaming the victim and making unilateral concessions when things get tough.

  5. Shekhar Gupta is realistic. China is the stronger, both militarily and economically. It makes more sense to settle with the smaller neighbour.

    The fault lies not only with Modi but even previous governments. Pakistan is closer culturally, there is affinity due to language , cuisine etc., and it should be easier to settle with them. When the two live abroad, they see their affinity.

    India, had it been clever, could have used Indian Muslims as a bridge with Pakistan in creating a dialogue for settlement. The Congress govt. never thought of this, and the BJP instead of settling with Pakistan, thinks the solution is to beat up Kashmiris and Indian Muslims (which only creates internal fissures that will break up India).

    As Gupta says, the BJP uses Pakistan and even Indian Muslim bashing for winning elections, and then we get trapped in a worse situation where we have to face the possibility of a two front war and we have to spend our money on that.

    Other countries that fought bitter wars like Germany-Soviet Union-Britain have settled their differences, and the politics in those countries does not centre on hating each other. In the same 70 years, India and Pakistan have not progressed in a similar fashion.

    Thus Shekhar Gupta is right to raise this and imply that it is wiser to settle with Pakistan, to face China. Anyone with intelligence should see that. But while I say that Congress also did not know how to settle with Pakistan, the BJP is doing things that lay India open to a two front war.

    Relying on Quad etc. is useless. Americans and Australians are not going to come and fight for India on the LAC. The Chinese have hit on the right strategy to keep India off the seas – pin India on two borders with a permanent threat of a two pronged war.

    • Right, because Pakistan is oh-so-peaceful and always negotiates in good faith and actually has a desire for peace. Maybe some of the Pakistani people do, but we all know who is really in charge in Pakistan and it’s not the government. The Pakistani military has no interest in peace, and India has wasted enough time pursuing peace with those provincial losers.

      So it made sense that India would focus on China, since it’s actually the more rational of the two neighbours. For now, India won’t be able to make peace with China, since it’s the stronger power, but in a decade’s time, when the Indian economy is larger, China will be more pragmatic. In any case, peace right now with either of the two countries would be hollow and temporary, merely a prelude to the next round of hostilities, since the underlying issue of India’s power imbalance has not been resolved. Peace can only be lasting once India closes the economic and military gap with China.

      The Shekhar Guptas, “liberals”, Congress party supporters and Muslim apologists of the world will always talk about peace with Pakistan, even if it’s just in rhetorical terms to sling mud against the BJP. This is all just idle chatter for the sake selling papers. Newsporn.

      • You sound the BJP illiberal with the 56 inch brawn – but with no logic !

        As for your claim that Modi was focusing on China as it is the more rational of the two…. hmm, what is your theory based on ? 1962 experience ? It makes sense only to the bhakth mind.

        As for a decade’s time, when you think the Indian economy will be larger …. what is that fantasy based on ? The evidence is it shrunk due to Modi after his cynical demonetisation, Covid has sent it into a bigger spiral and Modi says FDI is Foreign Dangerous Ideology.

        Your analysis is based on wishful thinking and dream of a great tomorrow under Modi which never arrives. That is characteristic of bhakths.

  6. The Pak.-China ‘two-front war’ scenario has been brought about by the Modi govt.. with its belligerent ‘Hindu nationalism’. Pulwama was staged to show off that nationalism but one cannot say it was a success as Pak shot down a plane and captured a pilot. It brought success to Modi’s election – but not to India. As for China, repeal of Article 370 contributed to the whiplash from China. Modi was the one who was touting Xi as a friend.

    India’s challenge is not external. The main threat looming on the horizon is to avoid implosion and civil war due to the disintegrative ‘Hindu nationalism’ unleashed by the Sanghis. They did the same in the 1920-40s, and that led to the partition of India, yet we do not learn. India is a communal tinderbox and cannot survive without secular democracy. Only this guarantees willing cooperation between the divers groups and communities in India. As the economy dwindles, and internal chaos reigns and govt. violence against Indians increases, it will be a downward spiral.

    In the western media and govt. circles, there is now growing alarm about India. Daily there are negative articles on India in the WP, NTY, WSJ, The Economist, Guardian and The Independent, BBC and CNN. Around 2005, the same newspapers were portraying India as the next Asian tiger. Recently, in the WP’s broadsheet, there was a whole page on why India is crumbling. One NRI who works in a US bank told me that in a meeting, one executive openly said they don’t believe in the economic data from India. That never happened before.

    In the MMS era, Fareed Zakaria and Thomas Friedmann wrote glowing and well wishing articles. That is not the case anymore. For some time, the west was looking at India as a potential bulwark against China, that could be a second pole in the global supply chain, and a market and investment destination. In addition, India was seen as more like them in democratic, secular and liberal values, and not into aggressive nationalism. India’s colourful multi culture had an appeal. That hope and goodwill has cooled and in fact people in influential sectors in the west are thinking ‘how can you prop up a country to be a bulwark against China when its govt. wants to be like Myanamar ?’ The CAA-NRC was seen in Europe as a Nazi-style legislation reminiscent of the Nuremberg race laws, and there is the rising fear that it will lead to flood of refugees. The US has now taken a stand against China for the persecution of Uighurs; hence, to be consistent, it will be forced to take a similar stand against India for persecution of minorities. The Modi govt. had Trump types earlier, but now there are people more committed to democratic values, and who realise the US’s international standing depends on it.

    My advice to Shekhar Gupta is to forget about Pak. and China, they can only do damage if there are internal divisions. Gupta should focus on the forces that are driving India’s social implosion.

  7. shekarji
    i am sorry i am commenting on this issue once again. i read the article once again. nowhere does it give any proof or reasons for you to believe that mr.modi wants to use pakistan for domestic politics. why have you not given any reasons for your belief. you have hardly spent less than a paragraph on the issue though it forms part of the headline.
    are you suggesting that pulwama was a staged drama before elections? if not what else?
    you owe it your readers to expain the reasons behind your analysis. if not this becomes “shoot and scoot” journalism.
    do you really want to become that at this stage of your career?

    • Let me answer the question you posed Shekhar Gupta. Pulwama was a staged drama, and you know it. Arnob Goswami knew in advance. How did he know if it was not planned ?

      How did a vehicle get so close to the convoy ? The soliders themselves asked not to be moved by bus.

      The timing will always arouse suspicion. In the election campaign, Modi used the dead soldiers’ photos, and Amit Shah talked about Modi’s army.

      Fascists will send anyone to their death as they believe their ends justify any means. They will hire kar sevaks, burn them, blame Muslims, enrage Hindus, and do a pogrom. Net result : some Hindus, and more Muslims are killed, but the BJP has power and most Hindus will hate Muslims and support them.

  8. Dear Shekhar Gupta, Your comments about two front war-winning being impossible are understandable. At the same time, suggesting peace with pak is hostage to BJP electoral politics is not backed by facts in front of us. That does not explain why Modi made well-intentioned (if ill-conceived) peace and friendship gestures towards Pakistan after coming to power. It has been the experience of all Indian governments that the moment any trust and agreement develops, their deep state decides to take an action. That can be overcome if then Pakistani front state takes decisive action against the culprits however that never happens. In short, there is no trust can be put on the people whom you negotiate to deliver and often they are not even people who are holding the ‘real’ power to negotiate. So unless that day comes when the Pakistani Military establishment comes to two conclusions: 1) there is more scope for ‘money-making’ in developing good relations with India 2) China does not have the capability and intention to harm India fatally; longing for peace is whisky sipping neoliberal ‘s pipedream. I think this China issue went long way in achieving the second point though not by Indian design!
    Additionally, I am surprised that you concluded India is a lesser power than China. Economically definitely yes but Militarily definitely not. Weapons and material were matched between two sides but even that fact does not tell you the whole story. The quality of feet on the ground i.e. our battle-hardened forces are arguably better than the Chinese army which has not done any successful battle since 1962 and any battle post disastrous Vietnam one in 1979. If they could not defeat smaller but determined Vietnamese hardened with victory over America, I am not sure what led you to believe the battle-hardened Indian army matching them in numbers and materials can not inflict unacceptable damage on them. Raje Shivaji has shown us that principle in practice in 17th Century while defeating much bigger and materially strong Mughal armies. Being the ultimate pragmatist, Chinese have learnt this lesson with India now!

  9. I wonder if “Modi” is looked upon as someone with all the answers, making the man (any (wo)man for that matter) bigger than a human. Some of the headings in the media seem to suggest this. Expecting all ills of the past to be erased, just by saying “abracadabra”. We have to get real real. This disengagement is but a short term goal, yet welcome. In its wake India has to persist to achieve the long-term objective to make the Chinese agree to delineation of the LAC on the maps; unless that is, these kind of intrusions and small actions that take place on the LAC will recur. It is obvious that “issues” along the LAC is not a thing of a few recent years; it has existed since our Independence and successive Governments have failed to resolve the matter of the undefined LAC with neighboring China. It is natural that intrusions and small actions will take place along this nebulous and undefined border in inhospitable terrain. It is infructuous to discuss these actions in detail in public because of the very nature that it happens along “claimed” and not defined lines. Tail piece: What the successive governments since decades have failed to do is take the Nation into confidence about the larger National Security issues like security policies, strategies and approach being taken to comprehensively resolve the matters of LAC with China and LOC with Pakistan. Hopefully actions by the Government now is a likely beginning of an end.

    • Bhakths are already worshipping him because he could do no previous govts could ie, complete “integration” of jnk with india. But this wasn’t any coveted price previous dispensations wanted to achieve anyway. They were more concerned about nefarious designs of our two great neighbors. They didn’t even make any song and dance about reclaiming lost territories. Declaring LAC from de facto to de jure border is the boldest any govt can do. What vajpayee govt tried to do with LoC ie, exchange a few districts with pak and settle the dispute is really the boldest tried so far. But looks like, both neighbors benefit more by keeping the dispute alive than settle.
      If one is expecting that the borders of india are established as shown on the map, that would be pure wishful thinking and it would really take a super human effort to get to that.

    • Fingers are pointed at Modi because he is the self-proclaimed chowkidar with the 56 inch chest. Hence, he is looked as someone bigger than human by bhakths.

      You can’t have it both ways. Worship Modi and say when he fails, ‘what did Nehru or earlier governments do ?’. This has become the standard cover for Modi’s incompetence.

      After Galwan, Modi was meek as a mouse and said there was no intrusion. As a soldier, why do you accept this lie ?

      Earlier, Modi used to stand with folded hands in front of the imperious Xi and touch his feet.

      • Raja, thank you for your reply.

        Unfortunately you do not make any worthwhile point except making some personal attacks, as many commentators do with very little substance.
        While standing by your right to say your piece, I will earnestly request you (here and hereafter) not to indulge in personal attacks.

        Thanks & Regards

        • I did not launch any personal attacks on you. I would apologise if you say which part.

          I commented only on Modi and your wonderment why Modi is looked upon as someone with all the answers, making the man bigger than a human .

          I merely pointed out that Modi projected himself as superman, and if his output does not match his rhetoric, then he is a failure.

  10. I am convinced that Shekhar Gupta belongs to so called Lutyens / Khan Market gang. Their worldview is Delhi is India. Rest of India is negotiable for them to have luxuries, power and certificates of being liberals, intelligentsia. First, no piece of India is negotiable and that’s job of government of India irrespective if it is Modi or Gandhi.

    If anyone cannot point this out is presstitute and just polished at exterior and selfish within.

    Pakistan our position is no talks under sound of bullets. Pakistan is responsible for delivering peace to have talks.

    China – peace at border is essential for economic linkages.

    Now how big anyone is, let it be so but it is not in national interest to engage with someone who have ulterior motives when it comes to India.

    Journalist who cannot read this writing on wall are fit to lead at theprint, tells us why we need to break the narrative.

  11. 2000 HINDU woman are abducted raped and forcefully converted and lakhs of HINDU men enslaved and are abused in pakistan. Temples are desecrated and destroyed only for a reason that pakistanis believe in GHAZWA E HIND and if they kill non believers and infidels than they will go to heaven .

    Such a country who knows and wishes 5 times a day, either to convert all of INDIA to ISLAM and rule INDIA and HINDUS from RED FORT cannot be convinced to think of any peace with HINDUS.

    Pakistanis believe that they might not be required to fight a war and ultra left wing radicals and jihadist with support of journalists who think BASHING and abusing HINDUS is what secular JOURNALISM is all about will get them what they want.

  12. Dear Shekarji, I am a regular follower of your cut the clutter episodes and articles. While I agree on your analysis on two front triangulation, there is no way India can settle its issue with Pakistan. Because Pakistan’s establishment will never want the issue to be settled with India. The day India Pakistan issue is resolved, Pak Miltablishment* losses its relevance in Pakistan, which Miltablishment will never allow to happen as we have witnessed for past 70 plus years. So the onus was never with India and will never be to have peace with Pakistan unless somehow true democracy rises in Pakistan.
    On million dollar question as to why China intruded at LAC now, I think there is a very basic answer to that, in a way laughable, rudimentary and unbelievable. Offcourse they started this because they thought in short period of time they would be able to show India who is the boss in this region with all the strategic gains, how India and rest of the world sees India as a counter balance to rising China will never be reality. But the reason that triggered this now was anger against India. How China was made laughing stock on Indian social media as in terms of their eating habits post Covid outbreak. You see I think Chinese don’t think like rest of the free world, they are in a way still medieval in their thinking (the way they want to dominate their neighbours and eventually rest of the world) And in medieval history wars have started on lesser reasons. China has always looked down upon India, as consider themselves a much superior race, they were angry, they could not tolerate being made fun off and they thought they could teach us a quick lesson !!! 

  13. We should not read much into this public posture by China. The Indian media mirrors the Chinese media(including The Print) here just for information. The way of the Free Press, they feel. I suppose being a democracy and able to access a plethora of history and information each one of us can make our own conclusions.

    This disengagement is but a short term goal, yet welcome. In its wake India has to persist to achieve the long-term objective to make the Chinese agree to delineation of the LAC on the maps; unless that is, these kind of intrusions and small actions that take place on the LAC will recur.

    It is obvious that “issues” along the LAC is not a thing of a few recent years; it has existed since our Independence and successive Governments have failed to resolve the matter of the undefined LAC with neighboring China. It is natural that intrusions and small actions will take place along this nebulous and undefined border in inhospitable terrain. It is infructuous to discuss these actions in detail in public because of the very nature that it happens along “claimed” and not defined lines.

    Tail piece: What the successive governments since decades have failed to do is take the Nation into confidence about the larger National Security issues like security policies, strategies and approach being taken to comprehensively resolve the matters of LAC with China and LOC with Pakistan. Hopefully actions by the Government now is a likely beginning of an end.

  14. Shekhar Gupta it seems is being funded by Pakis and Chinese — yet he shamelessly begs for donations for his gutter-level publication.

    India and Pakistan can never be at peace. Simple reason is Pakistan is not a normal country. It is an A level country. ALLAH, ARMY and AMERICA. The last A has now become a C. Only traitorous Jaichands like Shekhar Gupta can advise India to seek false “normal relations” with the PAKIS — a most treacherous lot. So that more Kargils and 26/11s happen and bomb-blast after bomb-blast rips apart our cities, a defining feature of ten years of UPA under pathetic puppet MMS.

    For Gupta, he and the likes of fellow traitor (and gas bag) Mani S Aiyar — they would love to return to lighting candles at Wagah and wining and dining with their controllers in Lahore, while PAKIS seek to bleed India to death with their 1000 cuts (seems PAKIS have now turned the blades onto themselves — on life-support by C).

  15. As you read the article, it is clear that SG is totally confused. BJP’s so called Hindutva agenda is simply no appeasement of minorities and vote bank politics. This has been achieved by BJP by consolidating Hindu and Dalit votes. This has nothing to do with Pakistan as such. After Galwan incident, Pakistan is now relegated in the pecking order as well and the way Modi dealt with the incident, has earned him a big thumps up from everywhere. Modi is now more likely to focus on economy in next 3 years rather than on Pakistan. If Pakistan behaves itself, India is ever ready for peace but Modi is not going to waste his time on Pak anymore. Quad is a fact and Modi will deal with China both on land and sea. For land, he will seek equipment from Russia, France, Israel etc and for sea, from USA. And CAATSA or otherwise, this will be the Modi strategy. If Modi deals with China, he would have taken care of Pak as well. There is nothing like two front war; there is only one front from East to North to West to South. Period.

  16. The Modi government is our most political of all. In the sense that it weighs all policy in electoral terms.

    If the above sentence is true, govt would not have tried with farm law reforms, and also push for psu sales which are unpopular

  17. Only God saved Modi from the humiliation he received after his unscheduled visit of Lahore for the function in the family of then pak pm Sharif. Modi invested his political capital hugely in that visit. what happened , pak back stabbed him with Pathankot and uri. Had been any leader other than Modi , he would have been just finished off. It is miraculous that Modi could able to come out of huge setback and win next election.
    China and Pakistan always want a weak leader for India. Just like MM singh, he was just helpless and made country look like vegetable when Bombay carnage unleashed by Pakistan.
    This time China deployed their military might only to humiliate Modi and India. And this time also Modi could able to come out victorious and save himself.

    • If you say MMS made the country look like a vegetable after Bombay, you have to be consistent and say Modi also made India look like a vegetable after Galwan as he said nothing happened.

  18. INDIA IS FACING THREE FRONTS, NOT TWO.

    THIRD FRONT IS SECULARISTS. Their attitude can be summed up with Rajiv Gandhi’s statement: ” I want secular India. I would rather see India destroyed than lose secularism”. This is the attitude most secularist show. So they jump on any issue to create mountain out of mole.

  19. There is a wonderful concept of Vanaparastha Ashrama for elderly people in Indian culture and tradition. Mr Shekhar Gupta – Now is your time to go for it. Total lack of depth and out of touch with reality.
    Why these, compromised journalists, squirm uncomfortably about relentless politics & tough stance on Pakistan of Modi government? Why you always advise to shun it? And to the benefit of whom?

  20. you have to realise that a very small minority of the country hate modiji much more than how much they love the country. the tragedy is journalists like shekarji support this group directly or indirectly by writing such things.

  21. “Which brings us back to the old imperative: That India must break out of this strategic triangulation with China and Pakistan. And then the question: How to do it?”

    It is not possible to make peace with Pakistan in present situation, unless a civilian leader arises in Pakistan, who carries out purge of military like Stalin or Castro, Until that happens peace with Pakistan is remote possibility

    Now let us understand the issue with China. Nehru in his monkey like stupidity let China takeover Tibet and so we end up with China on our door. His other stupidity of letting Pakistan keep Gilgit & Baltistan provided Pakistan geo-political advantage, With G &B in India we would have direct road link to Afghanistan & central Asia.

    Now dispute with China is about territory in which hardly anybody lives. So we can let it go and keep some peace with China and bid our time. That is wait till China gets into conflict with US and get back whole Tibet.

    The problem India had with Nehru dynasty was their utter stupidity. They did not take advantage of situation, solving Pakistan problem in 1971, China -Tibet issue in 1974- 1990, or use the peace offered during these time to expand economy. In 1949 per capita income of China was lower than India, according to Nehru himself. Today it is at least three times higher.

  22. The conventional wisdom has been that nuclear powers do not go to war with each other. That has been tested to the brink after Pulwama and Ladakh. The defence budget has been raised by 1.4%, which is less than inflation. Being at this elevated level of preparedness, including a large, permanent presence along the LAC, will strain the fisc, divert resources away from development. India must be the only country in the world not to promise free vaccination to all citizens.. 2. Pakistan and China are thick as angels. I don’t think we can wean one way from the other. Triangulation, as in settling with one, will not work. This is a composite foreign policy / national security challenge. One that is being exacerbated by the spectacular rise and transformation of China. If the Chinese had not been overcome by hubris after 2008, bullying their neighbourhood, treating the South China Sea as their lake, violating global norms while dealing with their minority populations, America would have had a truly formidable competitor. 3. It would be wise to treat Ladakh as a watershed moment. The path ahead is rocky. I am not a fan of Quad. Let India’s finest diplomats appreciate the enormity of the peril that we face, reframe a policy that is guided by pragmatism and realism.

  23. Before offering his weak solutions, the author should have factored that China has enemity with all her neighbours. The author also discounted the Pakistan’s other enemy ,nuclear armed Israel. Overall a myopic article without looking at the global bigger picture.

  24. Compltely biased writeup.syas it is Modi politicising it is modi is fault it is china is stronger.So r u chinses based editor??

  25. Basically that time you missed , China did’t want to clear lAC or settle LAC because it’s gives india leverage to doing what india want in South Asia or booming its economy not good for China. Second one you always missed on pakistan front that pakistan want peace with india , they fight 4 wars without any hesitation ,,,, they hesitate today because of Pakistan’s economy not because of Pakistan’s mentality. If China attacked they will be happy to join it . You always missed on pakistan because of your previous linkup’s.

    • China and Pakistan are not two fronts. They are one front and have always been so. Pakistan is a client state of China, it is to China what Israeli is to USA. They will always fight together but assuming they are not, we should normalise our relationship with China not Pakistan.

      The delusions among liberals about Pakistan are really irritating. Pakistan was literally created out of hate and mistrust towards India. They will never ever live in peace with us. The only way is to overwhelm them with hard power. It’s a crazy state which is still stuck in 1947 and the two-nation theory, it’s old dream of getting Kashmir, and it’s wet dream of achieving power parity with India. Not to forget the hate they have for Hindus.

      Modi is actually doing a right thing by being tough on a rogue and crazy state like Pakistan and at the same time being diplomatic with China, who are not really crazy but ambitious. China is a civilization, an ancient one like us. They don’t hate the idol worshipping Indians/Hindus. We have many things in common. They are just our competitors, not haters.

      China is a civilized enemy, Pakistan is a rogue terrorist state. Engage with China, ignore Pakistan.

  26. Both the Pak Army and RSS have the same DNA. Without anti India propaganda the Pak army cannot survive and without anti Muslim, RSS cannot survive. Remove anti Muslim from RSS then it becomes a Congress B team. So Pakistan remains our permanent enemy. China is not interested in any territory of India. Its population is on the East coast and is more interested in South China Sea. The main problem China will face is its internal unrest. Lets concentrate on doubling our per capita.

  27. Utter tosh. God, this presstitute and dalal (we have not forgotten Augusta Westland) needs to declutter and reignite his brain cells, assuming any of it is still remaining after all that Congi dalali. Has he forgotten Vajpayee’s bold Lahore diplomacy which got us a nice stab in Kargil — yeah, Gupta, you can say only true friends stab you in the front, right? And IK Gujral’s spineless neigbour policies before that? And the perennial “thousand cuts” policy which the “criminal enterprise” neighbour was so gloriously implementing in UPA, with 26/11 a mega cut, feverishly cheered on by Gupta, Sardesai, et al.

    If Pakistan is hand and foot bound to China, worse than a slave and vassal…we have only one giant neighbour stradling our two borders.

    • Thanks.
      Well said.
      It seems Modi has to bend away like Vajpayee did. Pakistan is an army that owns a country. Don’t even bother to go to them. Their truly elected governments are removed by a corrupt army whose money comes from keeping on banging about an external enemy – India.
      Modi is doing just fine. Whether it is improving national output through infrastructure or external links through Modiplomacy.
      He has no time to listen to SG.
      I am a paid subscriber who pays for this type of content to bring out the inner antinational in these people.

  28. This coward shekhar is stuck in the chacha nehru and his traitorous family’s thinking. He seems to believe that it is
    actually possiblee to make peace with Pakistan or China. What a fool. Wake up and smell the coffee gupta, we are in a civilizational war. Unlike you, the Hindus refuse to be exterminated. We are waking up. We are going to break free from the shackles imposed on us by the imperial British and their congressi colluders. The only way to get peace at our borders is by breaking up Pakistan into four pieces. Like the coward chacha, you have given up on aksai chin, but the rest of us have not. It is only a matter of time before we get aksai chin back and tibet will be free. Cowards like you have no place in the new India.

  29. Chill Gupta..stop spreading your propaganda.
    See what Hua Chunying, High ranked China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson says-
    Based on the consensus reached by the Chinese and Indian sides in rounds of consultations through diplomatic and military channels, frontline troops of both sides in the Pangong Lake area started on February 10 to organize disengagement in a synchronized and planned manner. To my knowledge, things are progressing smoothly in general. We hope both sides will continue to move towards each other, strictly comply with the consensus reached and agreements signed, and ensure the smooth completion of the disengagement process.

    As I just said, to my knowledge, things are progressing smoothly in general. We hope both sides will continue to move towards each other and ensure the smooth completion of the disengagement process. As for further details, I don’t have any at the moment and refer you to the military.
    Statement on 18th Feb 2021.
    No one wants war or going for War. PM Modi, FM Jaisankar handled the situation quite well.

  30. The commentator misses the point that reconciliation with Pakistan is impossible as peace with India is an existential threat to the power of the Pak army. In all the hillarity of “we were Arabs”, no ” we were Turks”, the one thing that Pakistanis are clear about is that “we weren’t Hindi”. Standard strategic analysis doesn’t go deep enough into the hate for India that permeates in the Pakistani establishment.

    • We Pakistanis are not Arabs or Turks or Persian or Hindi. We are related to many but not a part of any.
      Our language our cuisine our dress are different enough to have an identity.

      Indians are obsessed with denying us an identity. They claim Urdu is same thing as Hindi, I can understand a Persian newscast better than a Hindi newscast.

  31. you are insinuating that it is modi who does not want peace with pakistan for votes.
    what happened before 2014. we all know how much vajpayeeji and manmohan singhji tried the level best to bring peace with pakistan. instead what we got in return was kargil, parliament attack, 26/11 attack etc.
    the fact is pakistan army does not want peace with india because if it happens then they would loose their importance.
    modi also tried for peace initially – remember lahore visit?
    later he changed the policy to tit for tat. that cannot be termed as playing to domestic politcs.
    of late you seem to be biased and prejudiced against modi.
    even in yesterday’s cut the clutter, when you were talking of infrastructure projects inaugurated by PM, you ended the talk by saying that he is playing strong hindutva politcs. where did hindutva politics come in infra structure? is he inaugurating the projects only for hindhus?

  32. I tend to disagree with SG that India should first settle with Pak. He is not the same let’s say even 4 years ago. Completely in debt, abandon by Saudis / UAE ( his traditional backers) , no grants from US, pushed by even Taliban’s , he has nowhere to go. It just can’t afford to hv a war with India..that’s why we hv moved two divisions from pak boarder to China boarder focus. It make sense to hv settlement with China because it can bring FDI , higher trade benefits etc..and we can always play china card to manage US :-). Modi need not Pak card that much now, he can actually benefit more by talking that how his decisive leadership ensured strong nation like China to back down, that will fetch him more votes.

  33. Shekharji your analysis on missing topic in THE PRINT

    Metroman E Shreedharan who has joined BJP was asked by “INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST” Sonia Singh Whether he agreed with BJP on The topic of “LOVE JIHAD” .He replied that MANY HINDU and CHRISTIAN girls have been trapped.

    Shekharji THE PRINT was involved in a “PROPAGANDA or CAMPAIGN” in how innocent Muslim boys and Hindu girls have been harassed in this .

    Shekharji why suddenly this headline news of action taken by authorities stopped. Is it because SECULAR JOURNALISTS have ensured that no action is possible. Has THE PRINT been successful in stopping the BJP government. Please we need to know.

  34. There are far too many ‘Teachers” overflowing with knowledge and wisdom, ever ready to offer diagnostics & advice (unsolicited) on every topic to the current regime and specially Mr Modi.
    My humble suggestion to these “Teachers” is to pause and note that Mr Modi is doing well for himself and the nation without the benefit of their valuable contributions!
    May be it is time to switch roles and learn a few things from the current regime and Mr Modi who embodies selfless hardwork, utter incorruptibility, clear thinking, quick decision making, action oriented risk taking , unshakable resolve and optimism about the future and India !

    • Sir/madam
      You said some very nice things about Mr. Modi. I agree, only partially.
      Hard work-true. Selfless- no. Anybody having great political ambition has to work hard. Even Mr. Deve Gowda, our sleeping ex PM has worked hard for his position in life.
      Utter Incorruptibility- returns of corruption can be other than monetary. The other half of the unit, Mr. Shah and family have reaped solid benefits via corruption, nepotism.
      Clear thinking – true but too simplistic for complex problems, many times.
      Quick decision making – many times not well thought through, without consensus, which in such a huge country is problematic.
      Finally ,unshakable optimism about the future of India-
      We all have to feel that optimism for our sakes so that it does not leave us hopeless in the very possible scenario of our great country near the edge of a slippery slope of an autocracy run at the whims of a bunch of people. We all know where that slope ends .

      • Everyone is entitled to their opinions!
        You are free to evaluate the qualities/shortcomings according to your intellectual development , political orientation and your own life experiences.
        I prefer to focus on the positive, patriotic and optimistic ‘Can Do’ attitute that emphasizes SOLUTIONS and reject dwelling in defeatist negativity and nerratives designed to break your spirits by enumerating insurmountable problems and offering unpalatable options as the only solutions.

  35. It was a battle of attrition, fought with the weather, altitude, terrain and logistics. And the hardiness of the soldier on rival sides. The question was clearly answered, who could last the winter in large numbers. In absence of that answer, the process of de-escalation/ disengagement would not have started. The winter and terrain if used intelligently will always favor the defendant.
    The Chinese cannot afford to disregard the Indian market, a militarily subdued Indian market would have been perfect, but less than a perfect market still cannot be overlooked.
    Our proven capacity to stay on the northern border through the winter, for the time being settles the issue.. As far as the western border is concerned, ignoring them is the best way forward to humiliate and make them irrelevant. Every attempt at being decent has failed in the past.
    None the less the vigilance on both the borders and continued capacity building will have to continue.

  36. Shekharji you insist to settle dispute with china or Pakistan.For more then 60 years non BJP govt in power and they do not succeed in any negotiations how it make difference now with this govt.Negotiation with Pakistan means useless meeting from secretary level to prime minister and photo up with prime minister and in between war, betrayal and terrorist attack.Pakistan will never learn to live with peace with India as it borne with inherent hate towards India.On the other hand normalizing relation with china is better possibility if china stop acting the way it did in last 8 months.present Govt try to make relation better with China but now looks like very difficult for normal relation.

  37. Shekhar ji’s article is fine…..until of course the last para. Look no one likes to have bad neighbors. What shekhar ji seems to think is that only BJP’s domestic politics are the roadblock in lasting peace between india and pak. This is perhaps 3rd time shekhar ji is making this point. You are wrong. Not to mention naive. Until and unless Pakistan truly becomes a democracy with the army firmly under civilian control and the larger pakistani population seeks peace, nothing will happen. And if you are one of those naive “aman ki aasha” group who thinks Pak establishment will be so moved and touched by our gestures (which all govts including this one made) that they will stop bleeding us, I really don’t know what to say. Shekhar ji geopolitics happens around facts on the ground and facts indicate that India has to deal with this triangulation. Let’s make necessary policy for that.

    • i fully agree with you. shekarji seems to think modi is the only stubling block between peaceful relationship between the two countries. that is his journalistic politcs.

  38. Is there something in Modi’s character that will compell him to priortize national interest over parochial and racist bones in his body?
    Is he secularly insecure to need the Pakistan boogey to beat upon to convince himself and RSS laced BJP?

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