According to the basic premise of neo-realism, a country employs all means fair or foul to maximise its burgeoning national interests and national security. In the very same way, the incumbent Indian government is bent on surreptitiously orchestrating attacks on the country’s well-guarded army and air bases so as to blame Pakistan for these disruptive and false flag attacks. The underlying reason behind these disruptive attacks is to falsely label Pakistan with terrorism and ably deflect the already faltering international attention from the unspeakable Indian atrocities in the Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Worryingly, the architect of these strategies is the incumbent National Security Adviser of India, Ajit Doval. Under the tutelage of Ajit Doval, the attack on Indian army base in Uri was allegedly planned to heap blames on Pakistani security forces with the intent to divert the world’s focus from the ongoing brutalities by more than 700,000 heavily-armed Indian troops in the IOK. A large number of security experts in the region are of the opinion that it seems impossible for four terrorists with sophisticated arms to penetrate the highly-fortified, well-guarded Uri. This base is protected with barbed wires, lazar rays and trained dogs that obstruct anything to enter the base. All this makes it crystal clear that the attack was organised by the Indian army to charge Pakistan so as to provide a shield to the Indian inhumane atrocities in the IOK. This strategy is a flank of the grand Doval Doctrine primarily calculated to isolate, weaken and destabilise Pakistan by covertly using terrorist and militant means.
The involvement of the Indian security establishment in the Uri attack can be gauged from this fact that during the attack, the Indian army revealed that the attackers were Pakistani-based terrorists. How was it possible to come to the conclusion that the attackers were from Pakistan without proper and impartial investigation? All this shows that the attack was orchestrated by the Indian army to accuse Pakistan and isolate it regionally and internationally.
However, the Pakistan Army under the charismatic leadership of Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has exposed the botched application of terrorism and proxy wars by the Indian security establishment and has successfully foiled all these blatant designs for the greater security of the region. The article will analyse the well-orchestrated Uri attack, secret objectives behind it and the disruptive Doval Doctrine. More importantly, the opinion also suggests a feasible way forward for the civilian government of Pakistan on how to respond to the Doval Doctrine.
The Doval Doctrine
The Indian security establishment is now fully acquainted that it cannot wage a full-blown war with Pakistan due to the factor of mutually assured destruction (MAD). Therefore, Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval has crafted his sinister doctrine, namely the Doval Doctrine, to isolate and weaken Pakistan by using the means of terrorism, insurgency and militancy and water as a weapon.
Isolation of Pakistan
The supremacist government of India under the influence of NSA Ajit Doval has been bent upon isolating Pakistan regionally and internationally. In this context, India has been applying different methods to convince the world that Pakistan is secretly supporting terrorists and militants. Apart from this, the BJP is also engaged in cultivating an acquaintance with some major regional countries so as to squeeze their markets for Pakistan. It is nothing but a pity that Islamabad has neither the will nor the guts to outweigh and outsmart this smear campaign of New Delhi against its economic and security interests in the world.
Isolating Pakistan Internationally
India has prodigiously succeeded in isolating Pakistan at the international level. In this context, the recent attack on the Indian army base in Uri is believed to be allegedly planned by the Indian security agencies to blame Pakistan for the attack at the United Nations. Though most of the countries did not take Indian accusations seriously, it impeded Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from exposing the ongoing Indian killings in the IOK; the world’s leaders at the United Nations General Assembly did not pay a serious heed to the speech of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in which he explained in detail the ongoing brutalities of innocent Kashmiris by the Indian Army.
The question is: Why is the divided international community reluctant to take serious note of the Indian atrocities in the IOK? This is all due to the extensive diplomatic offensive of India against Pakistan in almost all major countries. On the eve of the 71 UNGA sessions, New Delhi had made its lobbies active in Washington, New York and other European capitals to either purchase the loyalty or convince top leaders against Pakistan. Owing to such relentless lobbying, a large number of major powers today exercise reluctance to question India about its brutalities and blatant violation of human rights in the IOK. Rather, they consider Pakistan responsible for organising the unrest in the valley by its proxies.
The Modi government has played the main role to instigate US Congress to block partial funding for the sale of eight F-16 fighters to Pakistan. Sartaj Aziz has categorically highlighted extensive Indian propaganda and lobbying against Pakistan. He said, “The Indian lobby has been making untiring efforts to reverse the US decision, and a strong attempt, through Senator Rand Paul’s resolution, to block the sale itself.” Due to such Indian diplomatic offensive in Washington, Pak-US relations have witnessed a downward trajectory in the past five months. On this front, the Nawaz team lacks the diplomatic prowess to outsmart its Indian counterpart.
Isolating Pakistan Regionally
As far the Doval Doctrine, India has been using its diplomacy to isolate Pakistan regionally by clinching massive trade deals with the energy-rich Middle Eastern countries. On the other side, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is embroiled in brewing internal political issues that he barely has the diplomatic expertise and time to follow suit.
Pakistan took a prudent foreign policy decision by flatly refusing to join the Saudi-led coalition against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in war-torn Yemen in April 2015. However, the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has so far failed to discreetly tackle the backlash of such audacious diplomatic move due to the ongoing “democratic crisis” at home. Modi grabbed the unfolding opportunity by both hands and paid a highly significant visit to Saudi Arabia in April this year. The importance of this visit can be gauged from this point that Modi’s visit to the UAE was first by an Indian premier in 34 years.
The visit yielded some effective economic and security-related results for India. New Delhi and Riyadh concluded five important deals covering intelligence sharing on terrorism financing, increasing investment and fostering defence cooperation. More importantly, the Saudi king bestowed King Abdul Aziz Order of Merit medal on Modi; it is the kingdom’s highest honour and has never been given to a purely civilian Pakistani leader (although it was given to former president Pervez Musharraf in 2007).
The visit created some economic vistas for more than 3.5 million Indian expatriates working in the kingdom. It would also help the Modi government to substantially increase the current bilateral trade of $ 40 billion to over $ 50 billion this year, mostly in Indian favour. Since Saudi Arabia is already India’s top energy supplier providing a fifth of its oil needs, New Delhi has decided to increase its import of oil from the kingdom during Modi’s visit.
As a result of enhanced bilateral cooperation, India also intends to further promote bilateral trade and widen its scope particularly in the non-oil sectors. Modi, during his visit to Riyadh, encouraged more investments from Saudi Arabia into India. According to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, Saudi Arabia holds the world’s fourth-largest sovereign wealth fund with the present holding standing at USD 632.3 billion. So, India is determined to tap into this huge fund by inviting investments from the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia has also shown interest in investing in India’s infrastructure sector.
Over the past few years, there has been some cooperation on security between Saudi Arabia and India, with Riyadh deporting four most wanted fugitives to India. Modi was aware that Saudi Arabia and the United States had already imposed joint sanctions targeting the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the militant group blamed for the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. In his discussion with Saudi leaders, Modi obliquely referred to Pakistan’s role in supporting terrorism in the region aimed at garnering assistance against LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD).
According to the Hindustan Times, both the countries, in the joint statement, “called on all states to reject the use of terrorism against other countries; dismantle terrorist infrastructures where they happen to exist and to cut off any kind of support and financing to the terrorists operating and perpetrating terrorism from their territories against other states and bring perpetrators of acts of terrorism to justice.” Modi had only Pakistan in his mind while calibrating this joint statement. New Delhi considers it a diplomatic success to bring Saudi leaders into its bandwagon against Pakistan on the regional terrorism issue.
India achieved a phenomenal foreign policy objective through the well-calibrated incident of RAW’s operative, Kulbushan Yadav. The timing of Yadav’s arrest and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Pakistan was not accidental; rather, it was well planned by some forces to make President Rouhani’s visit fruitless and augment distrust between Pakistan and Iran. As a sovereign and nuclear power, we should not have let the Yadav’s incident strain our geo-economically important relations with Iran.
Despite long-lasting historical and religious affinity between Iran and Pakistan, India has effectively snatched Iran from Pakistan by making the sanctions-free energy-rich nation its main economic partner. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Tehran on May 22 for starting ‘a new phase’ in India-Iran ties. During the visit, Mr Modi sealed the multi-billion dollar agreements on Chabahar Port, investments in Farzad B gas project, construction of International North-South Transport Corridor, the India-Iran gas pipeline and security. Moreover, India is also looking at doubling oil imports from Iran.
Owing to our flawed regional policy, Afghanistan has completely tilted towards India. The fragile unity government in Afghanistan has continued to blame Pakistan for all terrorist and militant attacks occur there. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has recently warned that he would knock the door of the UN against Pakistan on Taliban issue. Capitalising on Afghan fear and reservation, India has gained full freedom from Kabul meant to train Pakistani-based terrorists and insurgents on the Afghan soil.
Under the visible tentacles of a regional power, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has recently threatened to block Pakistan’s trade access to energy-rich Central Asian States (CAS) if Islamabad does not formally permit Kabul to import Indian goods via the Wagah border. It is imperative to mention that Afghanistan has lately calibrated an ill-conceived geostrategic and geo-economic policy under the tutelage of Indian economic and strategic thinkers. The Afghan government is grossly mistaken about completely blocking Pakistan’s trade access to Central Asia via the economically important Wakhan Corridor; rescinding its long-lasting transit accord with Pakistan and consequently accessing India through the Chabahar Port.
Supporting insurgency in Balochistan
It is a major part of the infamous Doval Doctrine to sponsor insurgency in Balochistan. In his Independence Day speech, Indian Prime Minster Modi made the Indian involvement in Balochistan abundantly clear. Before that, the security agencies of Pakistan had already busted a RAW network in Balochistan. The network was headed by RAW spy Kulbushan Jhadav to perpetuate and fan militancy and insurgency in Balochistan. So far, Pakistani security forces have arrested a large number of RAW operatives in Balochistan and other parts of Pakistan who had been involved in terrorist and militant attacks on the country.
In this Indian troublemaking mission, some elements in the Iranian and Afghan security agencies have continued to provide support to the Doval Doctrine. There are believed to be a significant number of RAW agents at the Chabahar Port working as Indian engineers. They are secretly immersed in planning terrorist and insurgent attacks inside Pakistan. According to some reports, agents of RAW have established hotbeds in some areas of eastern Iran from where they provide arms and ammunitions to insurgents in Balochistan.
India is mistaken when it thinks that it can destabilise Pakistan by supporting the insurgency in Balochistan. Baloch insurgents are shunning anti-state activities and surrendering their arms to the government in Balochistan. They have fully realised that under Indian and Afghan sway, they have achieved nothing. These insurgents-turned supporters of the government are being provided with a range of marvellous opportunities in Balochistan to restart their lives from scratch. A large number of Baloch youth are also willingly joining Pakistan Army to contribute to the security of the country.
Abetment of Terrorism and Militancy
It is also a key part of the Doval Doctrine to support terrorist and militant outfits against Pakistan. RAW has continued to shelter, arm and train fugitive leaders and fighters of the TTP based in eastern Afghanistan. These terrorists then organise deadly attacks on Pakistan’s institutions throughout the country. During the course of the Operation Zarb-e-Azb, large caches of sophisticated Indian-made arms and ammunitions have been recovered from different areas.
Using Water as a Weapon
The right-wing government of India is bent on accusing Pakistan of terrorism and militancy. After facing diplomatic failure in its smear campaign against Pakistan, the supremacist BJP has lately displayed its inclination to employ water as a weapon against Pakistan.
In this context, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened a special meeting of top Indian water experts on September 26 to ponder over the possibility of scraping the 56-year-old Indus Waters Treaty (IWT). This short-sighted move of the war-mongering BJP is primarily calculated to dry up the already faltering water reservoirs of Pakistan so that it collapses economically.
This flagrant decision of India will be in direct violation of provisions 3 and 4 of Article 12 of the IWT which make it crystal clear that the treaty cannot be altered or revoked unilaterally. Such Indian threats are also against international law which does not permit the unilateral suspension of a treaty.
Despite Pakistan’s repeated protests, India has been engaged in covertly constructing some mega dams along the western rivers and stopping Pakistan’s due share of water. The major among these water projects include the 690MW Salal Hydroelectric Project, Wullar/Tulbul Barrage Project and the 330MW Kishanganga Hydroelectricity Project. These three dams openly violate the basic provisions of the IWT, but India claims that they are in accordance with the treaty.
Although these dams are still under construction, this has threateningly reduced the normal water flow into Pakistan’s major rivers. For instance, due to Indian construction of more than a dozen hydroelectric projects, the water flow to River Chenab has sharply declined to around 6,000 cusecs from a ten-year average of about 10,000 cusecs.
After completing these mega projects, India will presumably further decrease the flow of water into Pakistan by storing it into its dams. This will help India employ the water card to threaten Pakistan’s security and economy. The Indian government will be able to ruin Pakistan’s agricultural sector by substantially reducing the flow of water or instigate flash floods in Pakistan by deliberately releasing stored water in monsoon season.
India should be cognizant that the IWT is in the greater interest of both South Asian nuclear powers. Prime Minister Modi’s disruptive intention of completing blocking Pakistan’s share of water could cause a full-scale war between both the countries as warned by Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
Moreover, such a step will directly backfire by creating pressing geopolitical and geoeconomic issues for India. First, since there are no mega water reservoirs in Indian-held Kashmir, this will cause massive floods in the valley thus further stoking the ongoing unrest.
Second, China will definitely come forward if the IWT is unilaterally abrogated. China also possesses the requisite technology to divert the direction of the Brahmaputra River towards Punjab, Delhi, Aryana and other northern states. All this will not only bring about severe drought, but also flash flooding in these developing states of India.
Lastly, because of its central location in the region and its sharing of borders with most Saarc countries, India is at the centre of water disputes in the region. Apart from Pakistan, India has perennial water disputes with Bangladesh, Nepal and China. It has been trying to conclude IWT-like treaties with these countries. If India unilaterally abrogates the IWT, these countries will be reluctant to conclude any water treaty with India.
The Way Forward
The civilian government in Pakistan should come up with some feasible measures so as to thwart all insidious objectives of India which it is hell bent upon attaining to the detriment of the region. Since the main target of India is CPEC, it is imperative to plan according aimed at safeguarding the grand corridor from the terrorist and militant attacks conducted under Indian direction.
After considering the long-term feasibility and effectiveness of the CPEC, Iran has displayed its inclination to join the grand economic corridor. If the CPEC is converted into the China-Pakistan-Iran Economic Corridor (CPIEC), it will make the corridor a greater and safer game-changer in terms of regional trade and connectivity.
Both Pakistan and China should give serious consideration to the Iranian request of joining the CPEC in order to make the grand project a prodigious success by minimising its security threats. After the successful conclusion of the Iran-P5+1 nuclear deal, energy-rich Iran is once again set to become a major regional economic and military power in future.
Iran’s exceptional geostrategic and geo-economic location, potential energy resources and developing economy will presumably make the CPIEC more effective, less perilous and more efficient for Pakistan and China to reap richer dividends.
The CPIEC will greatly help Pakistan and Iran make the Gwadar and Chabahar ports supplementary rather than disruptively competitive. It is likely that Iran will provide China with a greater role in completing the remaining construction works of the strategically important Chabahar Port, thus lessening Indian engagement with the port. After making both the ports fully operational, Pakistan and Iran may formally determine their shares of Central Asian exports and imports, thereby dispelling the impression of projected competition and zero-sum game.
Iran’s partnership in the grand economic corridor will immensely assist in the better security of the CPIEC. Having a stake in the corridor, Iran will not permit regional powers to use its soil for fomenting militancy and insurgency in Balochistan. The clandestine networks of RAW reportedly based in southern and eastern Iran could then be easily dismantled.
More importantly, certain quarters within the Iranian security establishment have been secretly funnelling substantial money and sophisticated arms to some sectarian, militant and insurgent groups based in the bordering and central areas of Balochistan. After becoming a member in the project, Iran could be persuaded to sternly rein in these disruptive elements so as to safeguard Balochistan from insurgency and sectarianism.
Furthermore, Pakistan can seek all-out Iranian assistance to block the burgeoning cross-border smuggling of cheap Iranian oil and drugs to Balochistan. Narcotics and oil smuggling have made non-state actors financially sound to continue their troublesome shenanigans in the province. Proper regulation of oil black-marketing will help both the countries earn substantial revenue.
Greater cooperation between Pakistan and Iran will be instrumental in weeding out hardened terrorists and militants from the region. Iran will not permit Taliban leaders to exploit its border areas to penetrate into Pakistan as former Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mansour Akhtar did. Pakistan and Iran can pressurise Afghanistan to take stringent actions against TTP fugitives hiding in eastern Afghanistan.
Pakistan should convince Afghanistan in order to block cross-border infiltration of terrorists and militants. In this regard, both the countries should stamp out terrorist hotbeds on their soil and beef up security on both sides of the Durand Line. Besides, the ISI and the NDS should also cooperate and coordinate intelligence on terrorists and militants so that they can be easily hunted down.
Islamabad ought to use effective diplomacy by making Kabul ensure Pakistan that the Indian diplomatic missions on its soil will not be involved in fomenting terrorism and insurgency in its neighbouring country. Both the countries should also jointly work to root out the mushrooming drug trade because it is a big source of funding for terrorism. Such a window of opportunity rarely comes about between Pakistan and Afghanistan, so it must not be missed due to bilateral acrimony.
More importantly, a competent foreign minister should be appointed so that he can defend Pakistan’s stance regionally and internationally. Apart from that, the government needs to take needed political, socio-economic and educational reforms and measures with the intent to make the country strong on all fronts. All this will greatly help the government to hinder the moves of Indian against Pakistan.
It is now crystal clear that the attack on the Uri army base was planned by the Indian Army as a significant part of the Doval Doctrine to label Pakistan with terrorism and militancy. Under the Doval Doctrine, India is hell-bent upon isolating Pakistan regionally and internationally by using the tool of terrorism and compelling Pakistan’s regional partners to jump into the Indian bandwagon. Though India has succeeded to do so, the countermeasures of the Pakistan Army have so far thwarted the Indian moves to isolate Pakistan. The civilian government in Pakistan should evolve some required foreign and socio-economic policies so designed as to inhibit India from weakening Pakistan by applying insidious means of terrorism, insurgency and water as a weapon.
The writer edits The Asia Watch.