By Arvind Gupta
Published: 23rd January 2014
Due to a close link between the security and foreign policies of a country, there are many intersection points between defence and diplomacy. In India’s history, the defence-diplomacy interface has been and remains intense. In 1947, the war in Kashmir at once brought to fore the role of diplomacy when India decided to take the Pakistani aggression issue to the UN. The consequences of the fateful step are still with us.
In 1962, a better interface between defence and diplomatic establishments would have helped read the Chinese intentions better. In 1965, India did better on the military front but failed to prevail on the diplomatic front at Tashkent, constrained by the stalemated position. In 1971, the brilliant diplomatic effort before the Bangladesh liberation war and the mobilisation of international opinion helped India withstand the combined pressure of the US, China and Pakistan. But again, on the diplomatic front India could not clinch the final solution of the Kashmir problem despite holding nearly 93,000 Pakistani POWs. At Kargil, as India was pursuing a peace initiative with Pakistan, the latter’s army was planning the intrusion. The lack of co-ordination between defence and diplomacy was apparent.
In all these years, the nuclear factor had been playing out at the international level. India’s inability to test the nuclear weapon after the Chinese test in 1964 and the so-called peaceful nuclear explosion of 1974 kept India out of the emerging nuclear order which had a major impact on our security. After India’s nuclear tests of 1998, defence and diplomacy have become even more closely tied with each other. Diplomacy has brought India back in the international mainstream without being a member of the NPT regime. But, a new factor has arisen—the ability of Pakistan to wage sub-conventional war against India under a nuclear overhang. Diplomatically, India is trying to engage with nuclear non-proliferation regime in innovative fashion while the Indian military is faced with the task of fashioning new doctrines for war fighting incorporating sub-conventional, asymmetric warfare, cyber warfare and so on.
The changing regional and global security environment has led to new challenges demanding an even closer interface between defence and diplomacy. A few examples can be given.
International terrorism: At the diplomatic level, new counterterrorism partnerships are being forged. At the domestic level, the Indian forces, including our paramilitaries and law enforcement agencies, have to craft new counterterrorism doctrines in consistency with international standards and conventions.