“Every neighboring state is an enemy and the neighboring state's neighbor is a friend.”
― Kautilya, The Arthashastra
The name of Kautilya, meaning crooked, is invoked by former Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran's book “How India Sees the World: Kautilya to the 21st Century”. This invocation of Kautilya in the title of the book makes the above quote about "neighboring state is an enemy" particularly relevant to how Indian policymakers like Shyam Saran see Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Who was Kautilya?
Kautilya (“crooked”) is believed to be the pen name of the ancient Indian minister Chanakya who served Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Mauryan Empire (322 BC-185 BC). German sociologist Max Weber once called Kautilya's Arthashastra “truly radical ‘Machiavellianism’ . . . compared to it, Machiavelli’s The Prince is harmless.”
Arthashastra on Foreign Policy:
Some of Kautilya's Arthashastra’s "wisdom" deals with international relations and foreign policy which is laid out mainly in books 7, 11, and 12.
Kautilya presents a theory of international relations called the “circle of states,” or Rajamandala. It says hostile states are those that border the ruler’s state, forming a circle around it. In turn, states that surround this set of hostile states form another circle around the circle of hostile states. This second circle of states can be considered the natural allies of the ruler’s state against the hostile states that lie between them. Put more succinctly, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Influence on India's Pakistan Policy:
Kautilya's Rajamdala (Circle of States) can be seen in action today in India’s foreign policy. It sees Afghanistan as a natural ally against Pakistan. Similarly, it sees Japan as a natural ally against China.
To understand how India uses Afghanistan against Pakistan, let's examine what former US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says: "India has always used Afghanistan as a second front against Pakistan. India has over the years been financing problems in Pakistan".
Bharat Karnad, a professor of national security studies at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, recently acknowledged India's use of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorist group against Pakistan in an Op Ed he wrote for Hindustan Times. Karnad believes US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is trying to get Pakistan's cooperation in Afghanistan by asking India to cut its support of the TTP. Then he added that "Severing relations with TTP will mean India surrendering an active card in Pakistan and a role in Afghanistan as TTP additionally provides access to certain Afghan Taliban factions".
The foreign policy doctrine enunciated by Kautilya, the ancient Indian Machiavelli, continues to guide India's foreign policy vis-a-vis its neighbors, particularly Pakistan. Kautilya's Rajamdala (Circle of States) theory can be seen in action today in India's use of Afghanistan against Pakistan. Unfortunately, the Pakistan phobia in India is so deeply ingrained that the Indian policy vis-a-vis Pakistan is not likely to change in the foreseeable future.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's campaign to show normalcy in the Indian occupied territory of Jammu and Kashmir has backfired. Three member countries of the G20 boycotted the tourism event in Srinagar. The rest of them sent local embassy staff to attend. The event also drew negative worldwide media coverage of the brutality of India's "settler colonialism" in the disputed territory. It elicited strong condemnation from the United Nations. Prior to the event, India’s tourism secretary, Arvind…
What good is a currency in global trade if it can not be used to buy products and services from other nations that a country needs? The answer to this question came when Russia said it has accumulated billions of rupees in Indian banks which it can not use. “This is a problem”, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in India’s Western state of Goa on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting. “We need to use this money. But for this, these rupees must…
Ex Chiefs of #RAW, #ISI meet in #London, Both agree war not an option, #India and #Pakistan talks must via @htTweets
AS Dulat and Ehsan-ul-Haq, who served as head of the RAW and ISI respectively in the early 2000s, came together at a seminar in the LSE that was marked by much banter and barbs.
Dulat and Ehsan, who served in their respective offices in the early 2000s, were key players in sensitive issues, often taking adversarial postures and actions, but at LSE they could not agree more with each other on Jammu and Kashmir, terrorism and peace talks.
Ehsan dwelt on what he called the “mass uprising in Jammu and Kashmir since July last year”, following the death of jihadi commander Burhan Wani, and harped on the need to resume the stalled dialogue between the two countries. Dulat agreed with him that India had committed “mistakes” and created “a mess” in the state.
Dulat also agreed that talks should be resumed between the two sides, since war is not an option and dialogue is the only way out. India, he said, needs to make an exception and talk along with terrorism (New Delhi has ruled out parleys until Pakistan-backed terrorism is stopped).
The former RAW chief said: “The magic of it all, as Ehsan-sab said, is mainstreaming and also democracy. The mistakes that we are making (in Jammu and Kashmir), apart from the mess that we have created, still not talking to people, high time we started talking to people…We need to deal with Kashmir in a more civilised manner.
“These red lines about Hurriyat…we have got it absolutely wrong because the whole idea of talking to the Hurriyat is to mainstream them, get them into the democratic process…The PDP-BJP coalition was expected to bring Jammu and Srinagar closer, but it has taken them further apart because Kashmiris have never forgiven the PDP for bringing the RSS into the (Kashmir) valley.
“In the BJP’s mind, the RSS may have come into the valley but the RSS is not going to achieve anything there,” he added.
Another point of agreement between the two former spooks was the need for cooperation between Indian and Pakistan intelligence agencies.
Dulat, an old Kashmir hand who headed India’s external intelligence agency during 1999-2000, said there were instances when interaction between RAW and ISI had “produced more than the desired results”, and Ehsan had been witness to at least one such major result.
Amid knowing guffaws and smiles, Dulat chided Ehsan and reminded him of his “relationship” with his Indian counterpart, of India tipping off Pakistan about a potential threat to the life of former president Pervez Musharraf, and of covert talks defusing a major flashpoint in the early 2000s.
Dulat said: “He (Ehsan) is still using the ploy of plausible deniability and being rather modest about his relationship which was well known. And from all that I know it was a great relationship that produced results. I think Sir, you recall the 2003 ceasefire took place because of you and your friend.”
The remarks evoked laughter from Ehsan.
Dulat added, “And if I can go beyond, your friend also tipped you with intelligence which may have saved Gen Musharraf’s life. And I think that is something that even Gen Musharraf in a way acknowledges. So I don’t think we need to deny that. It is a feather in your cap, Sir, and a feather in your friend’s cap.”
What the Success of the Left Alliance Means for Nepal
BY BISWAS BARAL ON 10/12/201
But perhaps the biggest reason people rejected the NC this time has to do with the 2015-16 shutdown of the Nepal-India border. As the Congress has always been close to New Delhi, its leaders were at the time seen as mincing their words in condemning the ‘Indian blockade’. But while they vacillated, Oli and his comrades felt no such qualms. They openly blamed India for bringing misery to Nepalis.
Deuba and company were seen as weak and doing ‘India’s bidding’. In contrast, Oli came across as a strong nationalist leader who was not afraid to call a spade a spade. Oli, the blockade-time prime minister, got the credit for courageously standing up to the ‘Indian bully’.
Oli back then also signed the landmark trade and transit agreements with China. These agreements ended Nepal’s total dependency on Indian ports for business with third countries and put paid – at least in terms of optics if not reality – to India’s monopoly on the supply of fuel. Both these acts were seen favorably by Nepalis who had felt humiliated by India’s highhandedness during the standoff. India-bashing has traditionally been a foolproof electoral strategy in Nepal, and Oli milked it.
Perhaps Prachanda, who has long since abandoned his revolutionary zeal, also realised that it would for the moment be wise to align with Oli and try to steal some of his thunder. On the campaign trail, Prachanda was seen as openly projecting Oli as the new prime minister. Apparently, the deal is that while Oli will lead the country, Prachanda will head the new party formed after the left merger. (A more cynical interpretation is that Prachanda is looking for Oli, who has multiple heath issues, to step down sooner rather than later so that he can then become the undisputed communist leader in Nepal.)
Speculations are rife that with the Left alliance poised for at least a simple majority, and very likely a two-thirds majority, the new government under Oli will firmly align with China. But this would be an over-simplification of the ground realities in Nepal. Oli understands very well – as does Prachanda, who in 2009 lost his prime minister’s chair after angering India – that no government in Nepal can afford to be seen as openly anti-India. Former Indian foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon rightly refuses to label Oli ‘pro-China’ and thinks of him as ‘just another politician doing whatever is convenient to get to power’.
Oli, who was until a few years ago among India’s most trusted lieutenants in Kathmandu, embraced the pro-China nationalist image because he knew it would pay off electorally. But once in power, he will not need to be so openly hostile to India and will, in all likelihood, make efforts to mend his frayed ties with New Delhi, safe in the knowledge that there is no immediate threat to his government.
INDIA AND THE UNITED STATES SHOULD REVISIT THEIR OPPOSITION TO CHINA-LED CONNECTIVITY
Others in this series have noted the need for more pragmatic realism in Pakistan’s foreign policy, but India too would benefit from a dose of realism about the gap between it and China and what it gains from absolute opposition to the Belt and Road Initiative. In terms of physical infrastructure, India is in many ways better positioned to be a beneficiary of multilateral support than a leader or lender. Its road infrastructure is at least a decade behind China’s. It needs Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean expertise in developing and financing road and high-speed railway networks. India, whose productivity pales in comparison to other large economies, also lacks the ability to build the successful industrial zones that are generally paired with thriving ports.
But India, along with Japan and South Korea, can compete with China on electric power projects and, perhaps down the road, on metro rail transport projects. India and Japan have had success in outcompeting China in Bangladesh’s power sector.
In a previous contribution to this series, Daniel Markey noted that “China’s deeper involvement in Southern Asia is stirring competitive Indian tendencies rather than cooperative ones.” A decade from now, India will have to assess what it has gained in opposing the Belt and Road Initiative and instead spending hundreds of millions of dollars on connectivity with countries like Afghanistan (assuming New Delhi fulfills its pledges on Chabahar). India may find itself to be the odd man out.
India’s interests and regional stability will be better served by a greater effort to look for economic convergences with China and Pakistan. That does not mean India should return to its pre-1962 war naivete and call for Sino-Indian brotherhood (Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai). The two countries are and remain strategic competitors. But strategic competition has not inhibited trade between the two Asian giants, which grew from $2 billion to $70 billion from 2000 to 2014. India ought to view Chinese investments in Pakistan with similar pragmatism. And to unleash the region’s economic potential, New Delhi should engage Islamabad in dialogue to find pathways toward de-escalation in Afghanistan and Pakistani Balochistan, where India and Pakistan are engaged in shadow wars. By 2019, when the general elections in Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan are complete, deescalation can perhaps yield to a composite bilateral dialogue on resolving outstanding issues — including Kashmir — allowing South Asia’s two largest economies to redevote energy toward regional economic cooperation.
India has territorial disputes with:
Pakistan foreign policy 101
Ashraf Jehangir QaziUpdated January 26, 2019
Pakistan has 10 major external relationships. Primarily: India, China, the US, and Afghanistan; and significantly: Iran, the GCC countries, Russia, the European Union (which still includes the UK,) the Central Asian states, and the UN.
India is Pakistan’s major adversary. China is Pakistan’s only strategic partner. The US is still the world’s mightiest and only comprehensive global power. Afghanistan is a force multiplier for Pakistan’s security or insecurity. Iran confronts Pakistan with critical choices.
Powerful vested interests define the national interest and make foreign policy. What is to be done?
The GCC countries are a major source of remittances and ‘brotherly’ assistance which almost always entails an embarrassing price.
Russia in partnership with China is a significant counterforce to the US and its alliance with India. Moreover, it has the potential to bring about a less imbalanced Russian policy towards India and Pakistan.
The EU is a major market and the Pakistani community in the UK (and the US) can be a foreign policy asset.
Central Asia can provide ‘strategic depth’ to Pakistan’s connectivity-based diplomacy. Improving cooperation with Russia can help here also.
The UN may seem irrelevant. It is not. It is where a country’s image, profile and voice are confirmed and contested. It is the forum in which the credibility of a foreign policy is measured. Its agencies, funds and organisations can be important knowledge-intensive and problem-solving assets.
Due to space limitations only Pakistan’s four ‘primary’ relationships will be very briefly commented on.
India: The core issues for Pakistan are progress towards a Kashmir settlement acceptable to opinion in the Valley and radically improving the horrendous human rights situation there. For India it is Pakistan’s use of “terrorist proxies”.
These core issues need to be addressed to the satisfaction of each other if dialogue is to be meaningful. Finding common ground for a negotiating process to be sustainable is a challenge.
Indian interference in Balochistan is a fact. However, the Balochistan ‘problem’ is not of India’s making. It is due to institutionalised bad governance and exploitation over decades.
Pakistan should continue to extend its hand of cooperation irrespective of a lack of response from India. It should keep the LoC quiet as best it can. It should build on the Kartarpur initiative. It should extend normal trading or MFN rights as promised. This is arguably a WTO obligation also.
Pakistan should offer travel, communications, confidence and security-building (including regular nuclear and water-management) discussions and proposals. Let India take its time to respond. Pakistan cannot lose by being consistent and reasonable.
Realistic rather than provocative narratives need to be developed. The people of both countries need to get to know each other more directly instead of through warped images.
Differences need to be contained, addressed and reduced through a realistic working relationship. This will enable South Asia to meet the survival challenges of the 21st century.
The leaders of both countries should make appropriate statements, stay in touch, and unfold a range of innovative initiatives. If India demurs, even after its elections, that is its problem.
China: The BRI and CPEC are golden opportunities for Pakistan. But they are not magic wands. Moreover, no other country is willing to invest on such a scale in Pakistan.
Pakistan needs to look after its own interests without making disconcerting public statements. It needs to assure the Chinese that it is a reliable economic and strategic partner.
Indian Newspaper Deccan Herald Opinion: #India obsessed with #Pakistan's #terrorism at a time when an array of issues are crying for urgent attention, and action on the domestic front and at the global level where India could play a role
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It has been going on and on about Pakistan’s support to terror groups at every forum, even if these meetings have nothing to do with counter-terrorism. For instance, TERI is engaged in research and advocacy on issues like climate change. While Jaisha...
Terrorism is not an existential threat to our country anymore and a country of India’s size and capacity cuts a sorry figure when it persists with whining and whimpering at every available forum about its woes with its troublesome neighbour. Does it ...
In recent years, India’s diplomatic energies have been dissipated by its obsession with getting Pakistan reprimanded internationally. In the process, geopolitical issues including the Chinese threat to our border, Beijing’s growing strategic ties wit...
PM Narendra Modi invokes Chanakya, Tagore in address to UN General Assembly
Prime Minister Narendra Modi invoked Chanakya, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, and Rabindranath Tagore in his address to the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
PM Modi quoted words of Indian strategist Chanakya, who had said, “When the right action is not taken at the right time, then it is time itself that causes the action to fail.”
The prime minister emphasised, “ If the UN has to keep itself relevant, it has to improve its effectiveness and increase its reliability.”
India’s action to deliver pain in response to Pakistan’s terror should be calibrated. Because of the limitations on India’s ability to inflict a decisive blow on Pakistan through military means, examined in the next chapter, the actions available to India to punish/deter Pakistan’s terror activities fall in the tactical domain. Though lagging behind India in conventional military capability, Pakistan is in a position to respond in kind to such actions. Therefore, an indiscriminate tactical response to Pakistan’s provocations can result in a tit for tat spiral, without corresponding results in India’s favour. Hence, while calibrated action against Pakistani posts/infrastructure facilitating infiltration/terror may be desirable, the policy of heavy firing across the LoC/IB in the J&K sector, adopted by India from time to time has invariably resulted in a stalemate of tit for tat killings of security personnel/civilians on both sides, without putting an end to infiltration/terror from Pakistan.
Sabharwal, Sharat. India’s Pakistan Conundrum (p. 290). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.
Ironically, it was a military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, who liberalised the media scene in 2002, allowing private radio and TV channels. Since then, privately owned channels have multiplied. Pakistan now has over 30 Urdu and regional languages news channels, besides entertainment and religious channels. The number of internet users in Pakistan was reported to be around 76 million at the beginning of 2020, an increase of about 17% over the previous year.1 Though around 35% of the total population, this is a significant number in absolute terms. Social media users in Pakistan stood at around 37 million at the beginning of 2020.2 All this has ensured that a large segment of the population is not dependent on the state for information, including about other countries. In this context, access of a large number of people to the internet and social media cannot be overemphasised. As mentioned in Chapter 13, my speech on the Indus Waters Treaty made in Karachi in April 2010 was largely blacked out by the print and electronic media because of a signal from the powers that be, but found its way into the local public discourse through the internet.
Sabharwal, Sharat. India’s Pakistan Conundrum (pp. 336-337). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.
Use of trade as an instrument to punish Pakistan is both short-sighted and ineffective because of the relatively small volume of Pakistani exports to India. Further, as examined in Chapter 13, use of water as an instrument of coercion is a highly overrated option.
Sabharwal, Sharat. India’s Pakistan Conundrum (p. 359). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.
Absence of dialogue and diplomacy between the two countries carries the risk of an unintended flare-up. With India increasingly convinced of its ability to coerce Pakistan militarily and Pakistan overestimating the leverage resulting from its growing China nexus and the downturn in India-China relations because of China’s aggressive behaviour in eastern Ladakh, an accidental escalation can occur. Restoration of ceasefire on the LoC/IB in the J&K sector in February 2021 was an important step towards shifting to a “management” mode from the free-fall phase of the relationship since 2016. As of this writing, the ceasefire was holding with a few exceptions. However, some additional steps such as upgradation of diplomatic representation to High Commissioners’ level and resumption of trade that would have contributed further to the shift towards a “management” mode, had not come about. The eight-track dialogue format used in every phase of structured dialogue since 1997 has outlived its utility. To begin with, Pakistan never bought wholeheartedly into India’s sagacious rationale that issues such as trade and people to people contacts should not be held hostage to solution of the more intractable political problems. Coming to the specific subjects, it is clear that demilitarisation of Siachen is not possible. without an understanding on the larger J&K issue and vastly improved trust between the two countries. A solution to Sir Creek requires a compromise by both sides, which is not possible until the relationship improves substantially. A roadmap for normalisation of trade, drawn up by the Commerce Secretaries in September 2012, already exists and can be used with suitable adaptation as and when the Pakistani establishment takes an enlightened view on the matter and overcomes the resistance of vested interests in sectors such as pharmaceuticals and automobiles. The revised visa agreement signed in September 2012 is available for implementation as a stepping stone to promotion of greater people to people contacts, but this too can happen only when the overall relationship looks up. As stated in Chapter 10, the Tulbul Navigation Project has become a non-issue.
'Pakistan isn't Collapsing, India Should Focus on Silver Linings. Boycott or War Aren't Options'
In a 30-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire to discuss his book ‘India’s Pakistan Conundrum’, Sharat Sabharwal ( ex Indian Ambassador to Pakistan) identified three preconceived notions that the Indian people must discard. First, he says it’s not in India’s interests to promote the disintegration of Pakistan. “The resulting chaos will not leave India untouched”.
Second, Indians must disabuse themselves of the belief that India has the capacity to inflict a decisive military blow on Pakistan in conventional terms. “The nuclear dimension has made it extremely risky, if not impossible, for India to give a decisive military blow to Pakistan to coerce it into changing its behaviour.”
Third, Indians must disabuse themselves of the belief that they can use trade to punish Pakistan. “Use of trade as an instrument to punish Pakistan is both short-sighted and ineffective because of the relatively small volume of Pakistani exports to India.”
Historically, the relationship between India and Pakistan has been mired in conflicts, war, and lack of trust. Pakistan has continued to loom large on India's horizon despite the growing gap between the two countries. This book examines the nature of the Pakistani state, its internal dynamics, and its impact on India.
The text looks at key issues of the India-Pakistan relationship, appraises a range of India's policy options to address the Pakistan conundrum, and proposes a way forward for India's Pakistan policy. Drawing on the author's experience of two diplomatic stints in Pakistan, including as the High Commissioner of India, the book offers a unique insider's perspective on this critical relationship.
A crucial intervention in diplomatic history and the analysis of India's Pakistan policy, the book will be of as much interest to the general reader as to scholars and researchers of foreign policy, strategic studies, international relations, South Asia studies, diplomacy, and political science.