January 21, 2016



 6 terrorists from Pakistan on the 2nd January 2016 made us realize that there are elements within the Pakistani political - military establishment that dont agree with both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sherrif. It is a well known fact that the political parties of Pakistan and the Army [even though it has a general handpicked by the Prime Minister], does not always be on the same page. It was evident from the attach a week after the Indian Prime Minister's surprise stop over on his way back from Afghanistan. 

 For a common person who sees white as white and black as black in a Picasso painting, it was an attack that says no matter how much India reaches out to Pakistan, they would still follow the age old practice of trying to kill India with a thousand wounds. Now let us look a bit more closely on the attack. The attackers were not some suicide loving petty jobless crooks. The attackers were well trained commandos. They knew the basics of fire fight - rather than firing aimlessly in fully automatic, they reserved their ammo with single shot selective rounds. This was evident from the previous attacks weather it be in Mumbai of in the attack on the police station and the army camp in Samba. The army has a well built security grid in place in J&K and hence the number of attacks has come down. Their attack on Pathankot had a new twist, They booby trapped a dead terrorist's body. As an analyst I know of the same practice followed by the NE militants and the Maoists. The presence of mind of the terrorist while undertaking the action under fire shows the planning and experience he had. There is no doubt they had exercises prior to the attack. Also the attack shows the intelligence they had on the locations inside and outside the airbase. It may be even possible that the arrest of an airman [Sunil Kumar] who was an ISI mole accelerated the attack before the SOP's or the security check points moved or increased at the airbase. Training of this kind cannot be imparted without the knowledge of the security forces - in a country like Pakistan. There is cementing evidence of the role of the Pakistan army and the Intelligence agencies. 


 If you would ask me December 25th [2015], 2nd January and 3rd January 2016, are all connected and has to be read in sequence. PM Modi on his way back from Afghanistan after inaugurating the newly Indian built parliament building stopped over in Pakistan. This represents two things the personal bond between PM Nawaz Sherrif and PM Modi, and No.2 - India's commitment to the people of Afghanistan. 'Democracy' is a term not known to much countries in the area. Pakistan Army and ISI does not want to loose a puppet, that stands as a buffer for Pakistan. For a decade after the Soviet withdrawal, Afghanistan had been a base for Pakistan, to practice the Pakistan army's version of foreign policy. There was a country ruled by extremists and a legally recognized country. Remenber IC 814 episode? The plane was allowed to land in Afghanistan because no Indian commando operation was going to be allowed by the Taliban. Proxy control over Taliban has only been a boon for Pakistan. Loosing Afghanistan to a democratic rule is something the ISI and Army see as next to loosing Bangladesh. The power holders in Afghanistan is a mix of Neutral and previous Northern Alliance commanders. 
History shows that India and Russia has been their supporters during the Taliban Rule. Pakistan still try to broker peace between Afghan Government and the Taliban. The new political map of Afghanistan shows a new entry. Islamic State has been gaining ground and a lot of supporters of the Taliban has switched sides. Though they both harbor Sunni views, the allegiance are towards different sides. Monitary benifits is the key reason for the swith over. IS operative receives twice what a Taliban foot soldier makes. IS is not going to heed Pakistan. Indian presence in between the power struggle is what Pakistan wants to end. Afghans prefer Indians compared to the shady Pakistan. 

The attack on Mazar E Sharif proves this point. It is a clear message. The sequence of events leads to this one point. The Indian establishment must invest more in Afganistan and cement out a foot there. A democratic Afghanistan is mutually benificaial.

 India is playing the right cards in Afghanistan, but elsewhere it is a different scene. Nepal is going north, literally. The accords signed and the pacts secured have been lost, though one would not say it publicly. Nepal and the new government is starting to see China as a better ally. Indian government has to play the game right. Years of bond should not be lost. The largest democracy must see to it that the country does not in future be a staging area for anti India elements in the future. ISI has been using Nepal as a staging area and a point for flushing india with their counterfeit notes. Sri Lanka has been turning for their defense needs to China and more recently to Pakistan. The latest news of SLAF opting for the  eight Chinese/Pak made, JF 17's Thunder fighter jets is a not a surprise if you keep tab on the area. More port calls, by both Pakistan and Chinese Navy is not to be seen by India as a trivial matter. Sri Lanka too aspires to be a blue water Navy, to be a protector of the sea lanes in the Indian Ocean.  The deal for the aircraft's has been limbo as if now due to Indian concerns. Myanmar too is interested in the Thunders. It is more so as though Pakistan is creating a secondary string of Pearls apart from that of China. 

PM Modi, NSA Doval and Foreign Secretry Jai Shankar, will have to sit down and plan a path to navigate through the muddle history has made. Active and Passive measures have to be made to make sure that none of our neighbor is going to turn against India.

 The views are my own and you can write to me at
 K.S Menon