Indian Navy Between Ambitions and Capabilities...

Written By: Muhammad Azam Khan

Indian strategic community seems to be in a frenzied mood to push India for a central role in global affairs. From permanent membership of UN Security Council and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to test firing intermediate range ballistic and anti-ballistic missiles and goading for construction of Chabahar Port, the haste seems all over. The focus of current attention however is the region that is currently in global spotlight – Indo-Asia-Pacific or Indo-Pacific. The expression, broadly embraces hinterland and littorals washing the shores of Western and Eastern Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean, chiefly South China Sea. The Strait of Malacca in the east links up Indian and Pacific Oceans while Strait of Hormuz steers economic growth in the region and beyond. Geopolitical commentators frequently invoke the term, often interchangeably, to describe strategic maritime security interests of powers in this nautical-cum-geographical land mass.

For long now, the region has been hub of international economic activity and a receptacle for fossil fuel. It has also seen major naval and marine operations above and beyond large naval coalition missions being conducted following 9/11. As late as in 2012, the region’s significance was reinforced when Obama administration published defence and strategic guidance or ‘Asia Pivot’. Also called, ‘rebalancing’, the ‘pivot’ aims to reorient sixty percent of the United States naval and marine forces from Atlantic to Pacific by 2020.

The ‘rebalancing’ was carried forward by the United States Navy and Marine Corps in their jointly released March 2015 United States Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Sea Power (Revised), CS21R. The strategy is a reworked version of 2007 strategy. CS21R purports to prepare U.S. naval and marine forces for ultimate encounter with China in the Pacific (South China Sea). It seeks ‘forward, engaged and ready’ posture for U.S. forces. To that end the United States banks on support of regional allies. The logistic supplies including basing facilities by these partners are critical components of the U.S. maritime strategy.


In the overarching scenario, India is perpetually cajoled to remain glued as a strategic partner of the United States. The Indian Navy is expected to safeguard the U.S. flanks in the Indian Ocean and in the process help itself build a strong navy, materially, technologically and operationally. Not quite surprisingly then,, the United States'' newfound strategic love for India has served as a catalyst reinvigorating latter’s long held ambition to become the ‘regional policeman’ in the Indian Ocean.

In the overarching scenario, India is perpetually cajoled to remain glued as a strategic partner of the United States. The Indian Navy is expected to safeguard the U.S. flanks in the Indian Ocean and in the process help itself build a strong navy, materially, technologically and operationally. Not quite surprisingly then, the United States' newfound strategic love for India has served as a catalyst reinvigorating latter’s long held ambition to become the ‘regional policeman’ in the Indian Ocean. “The United States is also investing in a long-term strategic partnership with India to support its ability to serve as a regional economic anchor and provider of security in the broader Indian Ocean region”, declared the United States defence and strategic guidance.

The United States has consequently subcontracted, if not all at least a major part of its military role in the Indian Ocean to New Delhi. In this mutually serving arrangement, India too feels comfortable with the United States Navy safeguarding New Delhi’s interests on the country’s eastern flank and further across the Strait of Malacca in the Far East and South China Sea.

In the backdrop of President Obama’s two visits to New Delhi duly reciprocated by four visits by Prime Minister Modi to Washington, the developing shared twin strategic objectives are unmistakable. Foremost is to prevent China’s economic ascend that resides in imposing projects like Asias Investment and Infrastructure Bank (AIIB) and ‘One Belt, One Road’. The second purpose seems an attempt to isolate Pakistan through conduct of clandestine operations by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), United States, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India and National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan as well as direct action. The recent developments including arrest of RAW and NDS agents in parts of Pakistan, the U.S. drone strike in Balochistan, Kabul’s unprovoked ablaze on Pakistan border security forces, and the U.S. failure to act against TTP (Fazlullah) despite repeated reminders underscore the unfolding game. Part of this blueprint aims to subvert Beijing’s entry into Indian Ocean through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and economic stability of Pakistan.

During his address at the Naval Commanders’ Conference in October 2011, A.K. Antony, the then Indian Defence Minister, stated that the Indian Navy has been mandated to be a ‘net security provider’ to island nations in the IOR. On May 23, 2013, the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh noted that India was well positioned to become a ‘net provider of security in the country’s immediate region and beyond’.

The title so conferred by the country’s apex political leadership was dutifully carried forward by the Indian Navy. In the ‘Indian Maritime Security Strategy’ of October 2015, Indian Navy accordingly boasts of earning national and international recognition. The Indian Navy has been entrusted with the ‘overall maritime security including coastal and offshore security’, notes the document. It then goes on to identify features that have shaped the new strategy. ‘The steady increase in the Indian Navy’s operational footprint across India’s areas of maritime interest, with a growing cooperative framework and contributions as a ‘net security provider’ in the maritime neighbourhood, including deployments for anti-piracy, maritime security and HADR operations’, is listed as one such feature.

But the flip side of Indian maritime build-up and ambitions is less than comforting. In January this year a total of nine incidents of armed robbery against ships were reported in Asia. Of these, six were directed against ships anchored in the coastal waters of India. The six incidents took place on both the western and the eastern seaboard of the country. Five attacks of armed robbery were directed against ships anchored in the Gulf of Kutch and Kandla (Gujarat coast), roughly 300 NM south-east of Karachi. One incident was reported against a ship anchored off Visakhapatnam on India’s east coast. All six incidents are believed to have taken place during hours of darkness. The perpetrators approached the ships, engaged in theft and in some cases, physically assaulted the crew. In at least three of these incidents, theft of stores onboard was reported as well.

If seen in isolation, the incidents may seem insignificant but certainly magnify given the professed maritime aspirations of the country. It is a sobering reminder of the need for India to review its oversized maritime ambitions. Blemished by several major accidents in recent years and unable to ‘secure’ country’s coastline, becoming ‘net security provider’ and ‘regional anchor’ for the broader Indian Ocean may be a pipedream if not a fanciful illusion. There is a yawning gap between Indian maritime ambitions and capabilities that needs to be plugged first before self bequeathing status like ‘net security provider’.


The writer is a freelance journalist. He frequently contributes on maritime security and other national issues.

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National Security

Written By: Taj M. Khattak

What is national security? It is a very simple question to ask but not quite as simple to answer. The complexity arises from divergent views of any number of authors, each partially right, most wholly wrong. What constitutes security in both real and abstract terms, how it is achieved and what it achieves in turn, are each different aspects of national security which need to be addressed both separately and collectively in order to arrive at some conclusion which can be considered nearest to an answer ‘complete in itself’.

It is said that the past inevitably determines the present, as indeed the present will determine the future. The past historical context to fall back on for better appraisal of national security is relatively limited. And whatever is available – like failure of politicians to agree on a constitution for nine years after partition, hasty and unwarranted military interventions in 1958, 1977 and 1999, the mutually destructive politic of 1990s, and present dangerous trajectory shaped by militancy and unbridled corruption in the last few years, is so skewed that any lessons drawn would not have been tested against unassailable earlier decisions and be void of reasonable depth of experience.

A country’s security objectives cannot be realized without its military acting as a tool. During Pakistan Movement, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, struggled for Pakistan constitutionally, without an organized military machine and its accompanying hierarchical order. To be fair, neither was there any need for it. But the downside of this void was twofold; one, the inherited military structure after partition lacked clarity about its place in affairs of state which prompted Quaid to offer advice on importance of constitution during his visit to Command and Staff College, Quetta and; two, the political class were so bereft of this historical experience that resignation of a well meaning COAS was asked for merely because he had uttered the words ‘national security council’ during a visit to Naval War College in Lahore.

In national security affairs, flawed conclusions can lead to disastrous consequences. After the fall of France in WW-II, Hitler, during negotiations with Britain’s Prime Minister Chamberlain on Munich Agreement in 1938, wrongly concluded that given the right conditions and terms, Britain could separately be persuaded towards a truce, after which Germany could re-orientate its military axis towards Russia and establish its supremacy once and for all.

To create these right psychological conditions, Hitler in his wisdom, didn’t push the retreating British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk hard enough and allowed them to retreat. He obviously erred disastrously in overlooking Britain’s centuries old national security imperative of not allowing ‘balance of power’ in Europe to tilt in favor of any one country which had even enforced it by war by its past rulers.

The questions begging an answer therefore are: in charting out national security roadmap for Pakistan, is there a realistic assessment of historical context vis-a-viz India which dismembered Pakistan in 1971, and has evolved military doctrines to harm our country grievously. Is there a fuller understanding of Indo-U.S.-Afghan nexus to destabilize Pakistan? Or vis-a-viz Afghanistan for that matter, which has no case on Durand Line but, in spite of being a landlocked country and its dependence on Pakistan for trade, continues to play in the hands of others?

The role of U.S. in this nexus stands exposed because the tone and tenor of its condemnation is different for major terror incidents in Pakistan, Afghanistan or India. It doesn’t bring any credit to the U.S. when by design it does not want to correctly distinguish between a terrorist who blows up soft targets in Balochistan and a freedom fighter who battles regular Indian occupation army in Kashmir, whose cause has been on the UN agenda for decades.

Let us revert to understanding national security and examine views of only three distinguished personalities due to space constraints. Walter Lippmann, the famous American reporter credited with coining the phrase ‘Cold War’, is of the opinion that, “A nation has security when it doesn’t have to sacrifice its legitimate interests to avoid war and, if challenged, is able to maintain those (legitimate interest) by war”. This could be a militaristic approach to national security since exercising the war option is an operative part of this view.

The inference here is that a nation’s military power must remain in direct proportion to the number of legitimate interest it decides to pursue and protect. The longer the list of legitimate interest, the greater is the need for increase in military power, and the danger of falling into a spiraling trap of declaring even more pursuits as legitimate interest. We need to re-visit that list to see if we are not over-extended in commitments beyond our shores.

Robert McNamara, former President of World Bank viewed national security in economic terms. He observed that ‘Security is not military hardware, though it may include it; security is not military force, though it may encompass it. Security is development and without development there can be no security. A developing nation which does not, in fact, develop cannot remain secure for the intractable reason that its citizenry cannot shed its human nature’. This view is appealing to many as it inherently suggests that development is the basis for economic security which is more important than military security. It is logical to infer that a developing nation which does not in fact develop, is threatened more from within than from outside. Put bluntly in Pakistan’s context, one can say that people would be better served by more responsive health services, education, employment prospects, clean drinking water and less of expensive showcase projects reeking with corruption and benefitting a few.

The third view of national security by Helmut Von Treitschke, a 19th century political thinker from Austria, enunciates that ‘The real test of a state’s power status is its ability to decide, on its own, whether it should engage in warfare’. It therefore follows that a nation should limit its legitimate interest to the level up to which it can take independent decisions to use force for pursuing and protecting them. In this regard, every nation endeavours to be as sovereign as possible but autarky is a mirage which even superpowers have been disappointed in chasing (U.S.’ recent military adventures).

McNamara’s view was clearly propounded for developing nations but it would be a mistake to deduce that military expenditure is wasteful. In fact, it is as faulty an inference as to believe that security is directly proportional to military strength alone. Can there be economic development to complete exclusion of a matching military development, especially where threats to its legitimate interest exist? Perhaps yes, but only through curtailing a nation’s sovereign right to defend itself and outsourcing these function – like the U.S.-Japan relationship.

What is national security? This was the question posed in the beginning. Have we succeeded in achieving some semblance of national security? If we carry out an honest audit of ourselves, we might find that the answer to this question – if not a resounding ‘no’, then at best is a highly conditional ‘yes’. This might please few, but the nation at large is highly skeptical about this whole paradigm.

In order to achieve greater national security in a coherent manner, it might make sense to amalgamate the above divergent views; starting from economic security with matching military security, leading to forging military ability for defending national, including economic interests, to finally achieving as near a state of robust national security environment as possible (Helmut Von Treitschke view).

This is easier said than done as our experience of national security has been flawed by personal prejudices and ill-informed decisions. The situation is unlikely to change for the better, unless there is a fresh approach and government structure is revamped to achieve the desired goals.


The writer is a retired Vice Admiral and former VCNS of Pakistan Navy.

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کشمیریوں کا بھارت سے اظہار نفرت

تحریر: اویس حفیظ

گزشتہ دنوں یہ خبر سننے کو ملی کہ بھارتی پارلیمینٹ میں ایک
Geospatial Information Regulation Bill
پیش کیاجارہاہے جسے قانونی شکل دئیے جانے کی صورت میں جموں و کشمیر ، اروناچل پردیش سمیت بعض دیگر متنازع علاقوں کوبھارت کے نقشے کا حصہ نہ دکھانے پر 7سال تک قید اور 100کروڑ روپے تک کا جرمانے کی سزا ہو سکتی ہے۔ تاہم پاکستان نے اس پر فوری ردِ عمل کا اظہار کیا ہے اور وزارت خارجہ نے اقوام متحدہ کے سیکریٹری جنرل اور سلامتی کونسل کے صدر سے متنازع بل کی بھارتی پارلیمان سے منظوری کی کوششوں پر تشویش کا اظہار کیا ہے اور اقوام متحدہ کی جنرل اسمبلی میں پاکستان کی مستقل مندوب ملیحہ لودھی نے خطوط کے ذریعے اقوامِ متحدہ کی توجہ اس اہم مسئلے کی جانب مبذول کروائی ہے کہ یہ بل تو اقوامِ متحدہ کی سلامتی کونسل کی اس قرارداد کے بھی خلاف ہے جس میں کشمیر کو متنازع علاقہ تسلیم کیا گیا ہے۔

kasmiryounkab.jpgمیری دانست میں بھارت کی جانب سے اس طرح کے اقدام کا مقصد کشمیر میں جاری آزادی کی نئی لہر سے دنیا کی توجہ ہٹانا ہے کیونکہ مقبوضہ جموں و کشمیر میں آزادی کی جنگ ر بروز تیز ہو رہی ہے اور کشمیریوں کی نئی نسل نے ہتھیار ڈالنے کے بعد مذاکرات اور گفت و شنید کے کھیل کا انجام بھی دیکھ لیا ہے کہ کشمیریوں کو گزشتہ 7دہائیوں میں سوائے وعدۂ فردا اور گمنام قبروں کے کچھ حاصل نہیں ہو سکا۔یہ آزادی کی جنگ میں شدت کا اثر ہی ہے کہ کشمیر میں ہر روز، چار نوجوانوں کو شہید کر کے انہیں مختلف قسم کی جہادی تنظیموں کے کھاتے میں ڈال دیا جاتا ہے۔ا بھی حال ہی میں آزادکشمیر کی وادئ نیلم میں بھارتی فوج نے مسافر بس کو نشانہ بنایا جس میں کئی مسافر شہید ہو گئے۔ عام اور نہتے کشمیریوں پر چھرے فائر کر کے سیکڑوں افراد کو نابینا اور معذور بنا دیا گیا ہے۔ شاید بھارت یہ خیال کر رہا ہے کہ اس طرح کے ہتھکنڈوں سے وہ کشمیریوں کو دبانے میں کامیاب ہو جائے گا مگر جن لوگوں کی تمام عمر ہی جہدسے عبارت ہو، انہیں اس قسم کے حربوں سے کیا فرق پڑتا ہے اور ویسے بھی اب کشمیریوں کے پاس کھونے کے لئے بچا ہی کیا ہے؟ جب ان کی آنکھوں کے سامنے ان کے بچے شہید کئے جا رہے ہوں، ان کی بہنوں کی عصمت دری کی جارہی ہو تو وہ کیونکر امن اور مذاکرات کی بات کریں۔ پھر طرفہ تماشا یہ کہ بھارتی دانشور اور پالیسی ساز ادارے اب تک یہ ہی نہیں جان پائے کہ وادی میں’’شدت پسندی‘‘ میں اضافہ کیوں ہو رہا ہے؟

بھارت یہ سارے اقدام گزشتہ کچھ عرصہ سے ہونے والی پے درپے خفتوں کے ازالے کے طور پر کر رہا ہے کیونکہ اب کشمیر کا مسئلہ نہ صرف عالمی برادری میں انتہائی نمایاں طور پر اجاگر ہو رہا ہے بلکہ عالمی برادری میں بھارت روز بروز تنہا بھی ہوتا جا رہا ہے ۔ کچھ ہفتے قبل معروف سوشل میڈیا ویب سائٹ ’’ٹوئٹر ‘‘پر دنیا کا نقشہ جاری کیا گیا تھا جس میں کشمیر کو چین اور جموں کو پاکستان کا حصہ دکھایا گیا تھا، اس پر بھارت نے شدید واویلا مچایا ، پھر گزشتہ برس اپریل میں عرب ٹی وی چینل ’’الجزیرہ ‘‘نے کشمیر کو نقشے میں چین اور پاکستان کا حصہ دکھایا تھا جس پر بھارت بہت سیخ پا ہوا اور الجزیرہ کی نشریات پانچ دن کے لئے بند کر دی ۔اس سے قبل ستمبر 2014ء میں چینی صدر کے دورۂ بھارت کے دوران بھی اسے اپنے ہی لوگوں کے ہاتھوں خفت کا سامنا کرنا پڑا جب ریاست گجرات کی حکومت کی طرف سے احمد آباد میں ایک معاہدے پر دستخط کے وقت چینی صدر چی چن پنگ اور بھارتی وزیر اعظم نریندر مودی کی موجودگی میں ایک نقشہ تقسیم کیاگیا، جس میں اروناچل پردیش اور جموں کشمیر کو متنازع علاقے کے طور پر دکھایا کیا گیا تھا(اور حقیقت بھی یہی ہے) مگر اس پر بھارت کی اپوزیشن جماعتوں نے ایک ہنگامہ کھڑا کر دیا اور یہ مطالبہ کیا جاتا رہا کہ حکومت اور وزیراعظم قوم سے معافی مانگیں۔ شاید بھارت یہ فراموش کر رہا ہے کہ اس نے اپنے آئین کے آرٹیکل 370 کے تحت مقبوضہ کشمیر کو ایک ’’متنازع علاقہ‘‘ تسلیم کر رکھا ہے۔اس آرٹیکل کی روسے جموں کشمیر کو دوسری ریاستوں کے مقابلے میں خصوصی درجہ دیا گیا ہے۔ حتیٰ کہ بھارتی قوانین کے بارے میں بھی یہی کہا گیا ہے کہ یہ جموں کشمیر کی ریاست کے علاوہ پورے بھارت میں لاگو ہوں گے، جموں وکشمیر کا اپنا آئین ہے جس کے مطابق وہاں کی اسمبلی ریاست کشمیر کے لئے قانون بنانے کی مجا ز ومختار ہے۔ یہ آرٹیکل 370ہی ہے جس کے ذریعے کسی نہ کسی صورت میں، بھارت بھی کشمیر کی ایک جداگانہ حیثیت تسلیم کرتا ہے۔اگرچہ اس وقت بھارت میں یہ بحث بھی چل رہی ہے کہ مذکورہ آرٹیکل بلا ضرورت ہے اور اسے بھارت کے آئین کا حصہ بنانے والوں نے دانشمندی سے کام نہیں لیا لہٰذا اسے ختم کردینا چاہئے اور اس حوالے سے بسا اوقات مختلف بھارتی عہدیداروں اور وزراء کے بیانات بھی سننے کو ملتے ہیں مگر کیا بھارت نے کبھی یہ بھی سوچا ہے کہ آرٹیکل 370ختم کرنے کے مضمرات کیا ہیں، اس کو ختم کرنے کے بعد کیا ہو گا؟


بھارت کشمیر پر اپنا حق جتانے کا کوئی موقع ہاتھ سے جانے نہیں دیتا مگر خود کشمیریوں کی جانب سے اسے ہمیشہ منہ کی کھانی پڑی ہے۔اس کی سب سے بڑی مثال حال ہی میں کشمیر میں منعقد ہونے والا شہید خالد کرکٹ لیگ کا انعقاد ہے جس میں حصہ لینے والی اکثر ٹیموں کے نام مجاہدینِ آزادی کے نام پر رکھے گئے تھے۔

شہید خالد کرکٹ لیگ کا انعقاد جنوبی کشمیر کے علاقے ترال میں کیا گیا تھااور دو ماہ تک چلنے والے اس کرکٹ ٹورنامنٹ میں 16 ٹیموں نے حصہ لیا تھا جن میں کم از کم 3ٹیمیں ایسی تھیں جنہوں نے اپنے نام حریت پسند کمانڈرز کے نام پر رکھے تھے جبکہ باقی ٹیموں کانام پاکستان سپر لیگ اور آئی پی ایل کی طرز پر رکھا گیا تھا۔ ایک ٹیم کا نام ’’حزب المجاہدین‘‘ کے شہید ایریا کمانڈر ’’برہان وانی‘‘ کے نام پر ’’برہان لائنز‘‘ رکھا گیا تھا۔ یہ بھی واضح رہے کہ برہان وانی مقامی ہیڈ ماسٹر کے بیٹے تھے جنہیں کرکٹ سے بہت شغف تھا مگر 2010ء میں انہوں نے گھر بار چھوڑ کر حزب میں شمولیت اختیار کر لی تھی۔ایک دوسری ٹیم کا نام برہان ہی کے شہید بھائی ’’خالد مظفر وانی‘‘ کے نام پر ’’خالد آرئنز‘‘رکھا گیا تھا۔اس ٹورنامنٹ کی فاتح ٹیم بھی یہی تھی اور ٹورنامنٹ کا انعقاد بھی شہید خالد مظفر کے نام پر ہی کیا گیا تھاجو گزشتہ برس پلوامہ میں اس وقت شہید کر دئیے گئے جب وہ اپنے بھائی سے ملنے جا رہے تھے۔ایک اور ٹیم ’’عابد قلندرز‘‘ کا نام 2014 میں شہید ہونے والے حزب کمانڈر عابد خان کے نام پر رکھا گیا تھا۔ اس ٹورنامنٹ کو خالد ظفر کے ایک دوست نے ان کی یاد میں منعقد کروایا تھا اور اس کے حوالے سے بھارت کی آنکھوں میں چبھنے والی باتیں یہ تھیں کہ ایک تو اس کی افتتاحی و اختتامی تقریبات میں ’’چیئرلیڈرز گرلز‘‘ کے بجائے آزادی کے نغمے نشر کیے گئے ، دوسری یہ کہ ہندواڑہ میں ہونے والی شہادتوں پر جب شٹرڈاؤن کی کال دی گئی تو ان دنوں میچز کا انعقاد بھی نہیں کروایا گیا۔اس طرح 22فروری سے شروع ہونے والا 31میچوں کا یہ ٹورنامنٹ جو اپریل کے دوسرے ہفتے میں ختم ہو جانا تھا، 24اپریل تک چلتا رہا۔

بھارتی و مقامی میڈیا جہاں اس سپورٹس ایونٹ میں بھی حزب المجاہدین کا سراغ تلاش کرتے رہے وہیں مغربی میڈیا اس بات کو لے کر پریشان دکھائی دیا کہ ایسا پہلی بار دیکھنے میں آیا ہے کہ سپورٹس ٹیموں کے نام بھی ’’حریت پسند کمانڈروں‘‘کے نام پر رکھے جا رہے ہیں۔ لیکن یہ امر جہاں ایک طرف کشمیریوں کی جانب بھارت سے اظہار نفرت ہے وہیں پر باقی دنیا کو بھی ایک پیغام ہے کہ کشمیر کہاں پر اور کس کے ساتھ کھڑا ہے۔ ’’کشمیری میڈیا سروس‘‘ نے تو یہاں تک کہا ہے کہ ’’کرکٹ ٹیم کا نام حریت پسند کمانڈروں کے نام پر رکھنے کا یہ چلن ظاہر کرتا ہے کہ کشمیری ان کو کس حد تک چاہتے ہیں‘‘ جبکہ بھارتی میڈیا گروپ ’’ون بھارت‘‘ نے اس حوالے تجزیہ کرتے ہوئے یہ لکھا ہے کہ ’’یہ کشمیر کے لوگوں کی طرف سے جاری ’’سول نافرمانی‘‘ کی طرف ہی ایک اور اشارہ ہے‘‘۔ دیر آید درست آید، اب دنیا کو علم ہونے لگا ہے کہ بھارت نے کشمیر پر بزورِ بندوق اپنا تسلط قائم کر رکھا ہے۔ گزشتہ اڑسٹھ سال سے بھارت کشمیر پر ’’دراندازوں‘‘ کا جو الزام لگا رہا تھا، اب اس غبارے سے بھی ہوا نکل رہی ہے۔ کشمیری عوام کی جانب سے بھارتی افواج کے ہاتھوں شہید ہونے والے افراد کے جنازوں میں بڑی تعداد میں شرکت کے بعد کرکٹ ٹیم کا نام شہیدوں کے نام پر رکھا جا نا، کشمیر کے حالات کی خوب غمازی کر رہا ہے مگر بھارت ہے کہ ابھی تک ہٹ دھرمی کا شکار ہے۔

مضمون نگار ایک قومی اخبار کے ساتھ وابستہ ہیں۔

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The Case for Legal Diplomacy

Written By: Ahmer Bilal Soofi

The contemporary world order has profoundly altered the traditional notions of effective conduct of diplomacy. Today, intelligent state-craft includes strategic use of new and creative forms of diplomacy to settle disputes in the international system and achieve foreign policy objectives.
Now consider, for example, the current diplomatic impasse between India and Pakistan. For quite a while, India has been insisting on restricting the agenda of any bi-lateral dialogue with Pakistan to only ‘cross-border terrorism’ issues while Pakistan favours a more comprehensive dialogue framework which also includes talks over the Kashmir dispute. These are essentially well defined political agendas. But, despite some degree of personal comfort between Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi, the traditional bi-lateral channels of diplomacy remain log-jammed. Moreover, the various Track II dialogues involving retired military and civilian officials, prominent professionals and esteemed members of civil society from both the countries have not made much headway either. The attempted political matchmaking by informal envoys including former diplomats, businessmen and others has also not borne any fruit.


thecaseforlegal.jpgMeanwhile, as a red herring to divert global attention from its incessant blood-letting in Indian Occupied Kashmir, India has adopted a bombastic rhetorical posture against Pakistan in the aftermath of the Uri incident, including fabricated claims of a ‘surgical strike,’ that has raised tensions in South Asia to alarming levels.

Given this context and the avowed Indian attempts to isolate Pakistan diplomatically, the one thing that we have not yet tried is ‘legal diplomacy,’ by which I mean a structured legal approach towards improving our foreign relations and realizing our foreign policy goals through the prism of relevant domestic and international laws.

Recently, our neighbor, Iran, amply demonstrated the potency and utility of legal diplomacy in negotiating a favourable agreement (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) on its nuclear program with the United States and other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. In the remainder of this article, I make the case for Pakistan to also actively engage in legal diplomacy not only to find acceptable solutions to our problems with India but to incorporate the same more broadly as an integral and permanent approach in the conduct of our foreign relations.

The fact that Pakistan has not yet resorted to legal diplomacy vis-à-vis India is quite surprising, given that the long-standing thorny issues between the two countries including Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, water etc. are all matters within the purview of international law as well as the domestic laws of the two states.

Kulbhhushan Yadav’s case, in legal terms, is representative of an intervention by a state actor in a neighboring state for which, subject to evidence, India as a state will bear responsibility under international law. This is so because Yadav’s acts are legally attributable to his employing entity, which is the sub-set of the Indian Government. The Draft Articles on State Responsibility, a binding international law instrument, are clear about this.

It thus stands to reason that legal diplomacy will greatly fortify our position on the Kashmir issue by highlighting not just the 18 United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Kashmir before the global community, but also by advancing an interpretation of the Simla Agreement of 1972 in the light of the UN Charter’s Article 103, whereby, “In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail.” To further bolster our stance on Kashmir, several recent judgments of the Srinagar High Court can also be referenced. In the absence of the full resolution of the Kashmir dispute, these judicial decisions have explicitly ruled out the abolition of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, thus closing the door for any integration of Indian Occupied Kashmir with the Indian Federation. Moreover, the struggle of the Kashmiris as rooted in their right of self-determination will be underlined by drawing attention to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2625, as well as by emphasizing upon the jus cogens or universal nature of the right of self-determination, in conformity with the International Court of Justice’s judgment in East Timor case (1995).

On the water issue with India, legal diplomacy should be employed to claim our full rights that are guaranteed to us under international law as a lower-riparian state. Most of these rights exist independently of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) in the form of customary international law. As far as the IWT is concerned, Pakistan should advance its interpretation of the Treaty in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Law of Treaties, and forcefully convey to India that the IWT cannot be unilaterally modified or terminated as per its Article XII (4) whereby, “The provisions of this Treaty [IWT]… shall continue in force until terminated by a duly ratified treaty concluded for that purpose between the two Governments.”

The more recent issues between Pakistan and India—progress on Mumbai, Samjhota and Ishrat Jahan trials; Pathankot investigation; Kulbhushan Yadav’s investigation and disclosures; Uri probe; and falsehood of India’s ‘surgical strike’ claim—also involve extensive legal propositions and processes. Notably, each of these issues constitute an independent and a separate case on which different teams of lawyers and investigators on both sides are independently working and strategizing on without consulting one another. This lack of coordination has inevitably led to a blame game with each side accusing the other of protecting its interests mainly through trial and investigation delays.

These recent matters between India and Pakistan are, in fact, representative of transnational crime scenarios where the crime of terrorism has been conspired in one jurisdiction and executed in the other. Some instances also involve links with third countries. Several different courts, therefore, are, or will be involved in almost all the said cases. The criminal law of both the states will be invoked. The law of evidence, with all its qualifiers, will be used for investigation and collection of evidence, whereby evidence must be transferred through a formal legal process to make it admissible before the courts of law. With trial witnesses physically scattered in two different jurisdictions, the attendant issues of recording their testimony and cross-examining them will need to be sorted. Moreover, there are outstanding differences regarding the legal basis and manner of the collection of intercepted calls and voice samples, and lingering issues such as the legal consequences of filing a Chalan on the basis of half-baked investigation need deliberation.


On the other hand, in the cases of Mumbai, Pathankot, and Uri, the offenders are neither state actors nor officials, but non-state actors, who conducted unauthorized and unlawful acts. Importantly, even though nationality is not the basis of responsibility in international law, Pakistan still continues to bear the responsibility of prosecuting them properly as a consequence of its international law obligations flowing from the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373.

Given all these legal complexities, it is perplexing that officials in India and Pakistan investigating these matters have never interacted with each other to match their notes or share evidence collected during their investigations with one another in joint investigation meetings.

In the Mumbai case, the prosecutors from both the countries have never met each other, whereas, for a trans national crime being tried in two different jurisdictions, preliminary meetings of prosecutors would otherwise be a certainty so as to divide the scope of the prosecution and the charges as well as the suspects for indictment. At the diplomatic level, the ‘cooperation’ in the Mumbai case has thus far been used as a smoke-screen for score-settling rather than for sorting the various legal complications involved in the case. In this context, the dossiers handed over to Pakistan’s High Commissioner were all actually inadmissible and of no worth before a court of law. Yet, this has been erroneously drummed up by India as a situation where although Pakistan has been provided with everything that it needs to convict the suspects, it is not doing enough on its part.

Notwithstanding their intellectual prowess in general, diplomats are not lawyers. In all fairness then, we should not expect them to grasp the subtleties of the various legal processes, especially at the trial level, which is generally considered as the most technical and highly confusing area of law even for seasoned practicing lawyers. Of course, there is a political dimension to several aspects of the Mumbai case which our diplomats are trained to handle. But, at the same time, the legal steps that are required to be taken cannot be exempted from. What crucially needs to be understood by diplomats on both sides is that if the evidence received from the other state is not court-worthy, then the state cannot, through some executive miracle, make it admissible to force a conviction merely to satisfy the sentiments of the other state. It is simply impossible for a state to guarantee an outcome of a trial because it cannot, and should not, influence the independent functioning of its judicial process in deference to the rule of law.
Kulbhhushan Yadav’s case, in legal terms, is representative of an intervention by a state actor in a neighboring state for which, subject to evidence, India as a state will bear responsibility under international law. This is so because Yadav’s acts are legally attributable to his employing entity, which is the sub-set of the Indian Government. The Draft Articles on State Responsibility, a binding international law instrument, are clear about this.

On the other hand, in the cases of Mumbai, Pathankot, and Uri, the offenders are neither state actors nor officials, but non-state actors, who conducted unauthorized and unlawful acts. Importantly, even though nationality is not the basis of responsibility in international law, Pakistan still continues to bear the responsibility of prosecuting them properly as a consequence of its international law obligations flowing from the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373.

In this context, it is unfortunate that through traditional diplomacy alone, Pakistan has been unable to put across to the world the story of its prosecution of the Mumbai incident in particular despite undertaking several legal steps. These steps by the state of Pakistan include beefing up its prosecution team, designating a special judge for the trial who conducts hearings far more frequently than in ordinary cases, and contesting the request for relief by the suspects at every stage. Moreover, the state opposed the suspects’ bail applications and if not for this opposition Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi may have been released on bail in the very first year of trial because the evidence presented by the Indian side was insufficient to prevent it.

The state’s message is clear – Pakistan stands distanced from non-state actors and their irresponsible and unauthorized acts. Crucially though, this message will be better understood by the world community if Pakistan augments traditional diplomacy with legal diplomacy that will enable the state to properly document and present the various legal steps undertaken by it in the Mumbai case.

Legally speaking, Mumbai, Pathankot, Samjhauta, Ishrat Jehan, and Yadav issues remain trials and cases. Therefore, in all these cases, I suggest the need for both the states to embark upon legal diplomacy, where they can communicate with each other in legal terms, in the language of the procedure, and move forward wholeheartedly for bringing the perpetrators in these cases to justice.

The ambit of Pakistan’s legal diplomacy need not be restricted to India-Pakistan issues. Our foreign relations with the United States can also be strengthened by engaging with Washington in dispassionate legal terms. Issues such as drone strikes and compensation for the victims of these strikes, the reimbursements due to Pakistan under the Coalition Support Fund, the procurement of sensitive defense equipment like the F-16s and the recently enacted Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), all involve intricate questions of international law as well as domestic law of the United States. Pakistan, therefore, cannot effectively achieve its objectives with respect to these issues without complementing its traditional diplomacy with legal diplomacy.

Post-9/11, the United Nations Security Council has become a global legislative forum of sorts by passing a series of binding resolutions on counter-terrorism such as UNSC 1267 and UNSC 1373. This has necessitated the use of legal diplomacy at the United Nations as well.

Legal diplomacy can also bring internal clarity and harmony between the different state institutions and the federal and the provincial governments on the treatment of non-state actors by providing them a common legal agenda that will prevent them from buck-passing or engaging in a counter-productive blame game.

For all of the foregoing reasons, it is simply a necessary need of the hour for Pakistan to actively engage in legal diplomacy on all the fronts discussed in this space.


The author is Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan, President Research Society of International Law and a former Federal Law Minister.

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