The Real Worry for India- The Combination of ISI and ISIS

Written by: Pathikrit Payne
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The complex dynamics of global geopolitics in an ever changing environment requires continuous monitoring and shifting of stances by nations in order to keep national interest unharmed. Over the last few years even as India has been working hard to shore up its defence preparedness along its eastern borders facing China, and appreciably so, the series of events that India confronted over the last one week or so with respect to massive firing by Pakistan along the Line of Control, may force India to have a relook at its overall defence strategy.

The Perennial Nemesis named Pakistan

In other words, India not only needs to continue shoring up its defence preparedness along its eastern borders, but it also at the same time need to massively bolster the firepower of the armed forces along its western borders especially and primarily due to the worsening situation inside Pakistan as well as its resultant intransigence along the border.

While the barrage of shelling triggered by Pakistan Army along the Line of Control may apparently seem like just another ceasefire violation, one needs to look at some of the deeper dimensions of the internal politico-religious strifes of Pakistan to realize that what has been started by Pakistan is a calibrated move to appease the radicals inside that nation and that the Pakistan Army is the one who is calling the shots.

Therefore, India's goodwill gestures notwithstanding, it would be wise to prepare for a long haul period of face-offs with Pakistan which may not result in a full scale war but skirmishes like the one that happened in Kargil or increased waves of cross border terrorism and a renewed effort to revive it in J&K cannot be ruled out.

Is Pakistan appeasing the hardliners?

If one looks at the recent comments made by Pervez Musharraf where he termed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as anti-Pakistan, one can clearly see a pattern in which Pakistan's politicians and Army is trying to rake up passions against India even though right from defying all diplomatic protocols and deciding to talk to separatist organizations like Hurriyat to relentless shelling across the Line of Control, it has been Pakistan which has been provoking frictions even though India's response till date has been quite measured.

The question thus that needs an answer is why from Musharraf, on trial for several reasons including acts of treasons, and the Pakistan Army are behaving this way? Is there a specific reason as to why Pakistan is trying hard to follow the radical hard-line approach? Is it that there is a protracted effort to appease the hardliners in Pakistan?

Are the events of Middle East and the rise of ISIS and their apocalyptic growth forcing Pakistan to take the jingoistic path? Is Pakistan Army scared that if they show a soft approach and allow their own government to continue with efforts of improving relations with India, then the radical Islamic groups based in Pakistan, most of which have in the past been groomed, trained and funded by ISI, might shift their alliance towards ISIS from ISI?

The danger of ISIS and Pakistan challenging India simultaneously

In fact if one looks at the scenario of Afghanistan and the manner in which the turmoil and mayhem inside that country is expected to go for the worse after the eventual American exit from that region in the next one year or so, there is a strong possibility of Middle East based ISIS making an effort to expand their footprint in that region and use that as a base for the same purpose for which Al Qaida used it.

With some fringe Islamic groups in Pakistan already rooting for ISIS, with situation in Balochistan and the FATA region remaining critical, with Tehreek e Taliban baying for blood of Pakistani establishment, the possibility of ISIS gradually gaining ground in Pakistan and situation for India becoming even more worse cannot be ruled out.

The real danger that India faces today is the combination of threat that is now emerging from both ISIS and Pakistan and the possibility of the two combining and posing a bigger threat which cannot be ruled out either.

China, no doubt a threat but a much lesser one....

Therefore, even while India has been bracing for a two frontal warfare and preparing for the same with the creation of a Mountain Strike Corps at a cost of around Rs65,000 crore and which would have around 90,000 additional soldiers, India still has less to worry from China primarily because China is today now next only to US in terms of economic size and is a responsible nation with enough knowledge of economic ramifications of getting into a war with India. Pakistan on the other had has no such economic compulsion to prevent tensions because it hardly has an economy to bother about and is almost a failed state with the civilian authorities there having questionable hold of affairs.

Today China faces similar problems from violent extremism in some of its provinces as India faces. China has built with toil and perseverance a startling economic miracle which for obvious reasons it would not want to jeopardize to a maddening war with anyone, something that Pakistan and its radicals, on the contrary, may be itching to do.

What India needs to do....

Thus, even while India needs to continue with its shoring up of defences in her eastern borders, the need of the hour is also to vigorously invest in shoring up India's capability in the western borders because it is from there that India faces more threat. India cannot afford to merely have 20 days of ammunitions with the Indian Army as is the case now. It has to go up manifold if India is to feel secure from a violent Pakistan intransigence.

Additionally, recent reports make it amply clear that recruitment for ISIS is happening from India as well. India needs to work vigorously to shore up its internal security architecture and not presume the threat of ISIS would remain restricted to Middle East only. Sooner or later, they would try to move eastward towards India and that is very much a part of their agenda. India needs preemptive capability to nip in the bud all such emerging menaces. The possibility of many of the homegrown jihadi groups like Indian Mujhideen gradually moving into the ISIS fold and posing massive threat for India, cannot be ruled out.

Along with shoring up of defences in the western borders, India needs a new internal security architecture to effectively counter the rising threat from within which is now getting more inspired by the rise of ISIS. It is time that terrorism is defined as a national security issue and dealt with accordingly. The threat is grave. The response needs to be equally strong.

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