Indian Express by C. Raja Mohan Posted: Sat Sep 18 2010, 02:53 hrs
Having squandered some of the best years in the history of India’s external relations, the UPA government’s defence policy is now condemned to deal with some of the worst. Through much of its first term in government, the UPA had a relatively peaceful Jammu and Kashmir, a ceasefire on the borders with Pakistan, a measure of stability in Afghanistan, tranquil borders with China, and improving relations with all the major powers.
That was the moment to undertake some comprehensive defence sector reforms, do the groundwork for rapid military modernisation, alter the internal dynamics of Kashmir, and catch up with China’s rising power potential.
Sadly, the UPA government did not. It now confronts the prospect of the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan, a breakdown in the peace process with Pakistan, a stalled boundary negotiation with China, internal turbulence in Kashmir, China’s questioning of India’s sovereignty over J&K, and deepening Sino-Pak cooperation across the board, including in Jammu and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, the government’s hand-wringing in face of a crisis in Kashmir and the serious internal discord in the Congress party raise questions about the political will of the Indian state under the UPA government. It will be no surprise if India’s adversaries want to take advantage of widely perceived fecklessness in Delhi.
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People's Liberation Army
China's military which, unlike most military organisations, also shapes (its) foreign policy, has begun to exert an increasing influence over policy decisions. Yet, Indian officials say they have few avenues to engage with the PLA, and warn that a lack of understanding over the PLA's strategic intentions has become an increasing source of mistrust in the relationship.
The PLA is unlike any other military organisation. It is not apolitical – it has an influential political department that also comes up with policies, though is secretive about its functions. It also exists outside the purview of the government, serving the Communist Party and not the State. The PLA has been “an official foreign policy actor” throughout the history of the People's Republic of China, according to Linda Jakobson of the Stockholm.
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