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Tuesday September 18, 2018

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Manvendra Singh Blog - DSA's Editor-in-Chief


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There is no denying the fact that the change has occurred in Pakistan. The duopoly of power has been broken; something akin to Aam Aadmi Party winning the Delhi Assembly Elections. For the first time, Imran Khan’s PTI will lead a government at the Federal Level which is not a small achievement. The voting pattern has been extraordinary in different provinces. But allegations persist that this ‘change’ has supposedly been managed. Foreign observers and Pakistani comments suggest that the Pakistan Army stands accused of having ‘fixed’ the election.

Which may or may not be true, but it needs addressing since all perceptions are based on at least a piece of truth. But addressing that allegation, and others, is the business of Pakistan Army, an institution that has and will continue to play a significant role in the domestic and international affairs of the country it is supposed to protect. Imran Khan has done nothing, so far, to suggest that he is under the tutelage of the Pakistan Army.

India has greeted Imran Khan with dignity that his victory deserves. Gentle tentative steps are being taken to suggest that a dialogue can began sometime. Pakistan’s new Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, is actually an old hand in the ministry, and in dealing with India. May his tenure this time around have better chances of an actual dialogue rather than being sabotaged by terrorist incidents as in the past! The only problem being that India is getting into election mode rather soon and attention to esoteric things like foreign policy tend to take a back seat during poll time.

So, it is time that an institutional framework is drawn out that sustains talks and dialogues among the political fraternity. Officials of the two foreign ministries could put together a system whereby a routine dialogue continues, and which doesn’t require constant political interface. That would go a long way in clearing the air and producing a conducive environment for further enhancement of relations. Anything that increases people’s interaction with each other across the boundary must be encouraged. It cannot remain solely a Wagah foot stomping exercise where people act as cheerleaders of jingoism.

The time has come to accept the prevailing reality. Just as dialogue with China is structured around the ‘new reality’, it is time to accept the fact that the army is a significant policy-player in Pakistan. It is well-nigh time that the two countries put together a structured dialogue process between the two militaries. For too long now, Pakistan has been subject to the fears of its army influencing domestic and foreign policies. Thus, bringing much misery to its people and neighbours’, east and west. It is time that a dialogue begin that puts a rest to these imagined fears and pave the way to new normality. Both countries need it, as do their people.



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The military serves in all possible human spheres of habitation and beyond. So the military person, belonging to any remote village anywhere in the country, is liable to serve, and mostly does so to, at the opposite end of origin. So, for example, if he or she is from the deep desert of Rajasthan, they will most certainly be found on duty at high altitude posts in remote Arunachal Pradesh. This has happened in the past and is certain to happen in the future. This spectrum of deployment puts enormous stresses on the body and the military logistics.



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India has aspirations of being a world player. It has belief in its ability to play an influential role in global politics. And it believes it is only a matter of time before it becomes a major factor on the world stage. That belief stems from its obvious potential as a nation, armed with human resources of first rate quality, an economy that could well be the biggest in the world given some corrective measures, and a geographical position that would be the envy of most in the world. That potential has not been harnessed to its optimum levels precisely because of that geography.



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Even as Palestinian refugees demand their right to return to native lands, and are massacred in the process, the Syrian crisis remains the focal point of events in West Asia. It almost seems that the crisis has been deliberately dragged on for so long so as to suit the interests of certain countries. In the process, thousands of innocents have lost their lives, priceless assets lost, antiquities stolen or damaged beyond repair—a country seemingly at war with itself. But all is not as it appears to the casual observer, for there are wheels within wheels at play.


DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (MAY 2018)

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The Government of India has announced the formation of a new body to oversee the entire gamut of defence and national security for the country. The fresh development is that it includes steps taken earlier by previous attempts at policy analysis and implementation, and it also features an innovation in having the National Security Advisor as the lead player in the new structure. The NSA will now head a new body called Defence Planning Committee that includes the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, the Service Chiefs, and the Secretaries of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Expenditure from the Ministry of Finance. An interesting feature of this new body is the simultaneous creation of four sub-committee to focus on policy and strategy, plans and capability development, defence diplomacy and the defence manufacturing ecosystem. This is a fairly holistic approach to matters connected with defence and national security. Especially at a time when senior military officers have been airing their grievances from public platforms about the slow pace of modernisation afflicting their services. This is a departure from the past when military officers were seldom seen and never heard. The crisis must, indeed, be serious.

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