Saturday, 30 March 2019

My tenth book - Ebook

South Asia at a strategic crossroad


Ali Ahmed

Book X – eBook compilation of writings on

October 2017-March 2019

For those who speak truth to power


The themes in this book compilation remain the same as in my earlier nine books, specifically, India-Pakistan strategic equations, nuclear and conventional doctrine, counter insurgency, Kashmir, military sociology and minority security. I have remained engaged with the major issues in national and regional security in South Asia over the year and half over which I wrote these commentaries. The book thus provides a source under one cover for appraising and understanding the ideas and events that have swirled in the cup of strategic affairs. It is particularly pertinent as it has been put together prior to the 2019 national elections in India, enabling voters to reprise the recent past and make up their minds as to whether they feel secure and are convinced that their country’s security is in safe hands.

The undercurrent in the pieces collated here is that national security has suffered under the the regime subscribing to cultural nationalism. Its view of security through ideological blinkers has endangered India and imperiled the region. This was brought to a head in the India-Pakistan crisis of February 2019. While a set of articles dating to the period present this case, the commentaries in the run up over the preceding year appear to predict the oncoming crisis in their coverage of the dangerous – if not reckless – manner national security in India has been run under its current minders.

The election mindedness of the ruling dispensation, with a view to further the cultural nationalist project on a reset of India along right wing lines, has been the over-riding factor and has quite naturally influenced strategic thinking and action. I record in these essays that this influence has been baleful at best. Strategic vacuity has been on full display for anyone caring to look and not be swayed by the compliant media and majoritarian extremists in the strategic community.

I remain indebted to my editors who have courageously accepted my contributions for publication. This has been despite the environment being one of intimidation, where dissidence and sedition are mistaken as synonyms. My insights – if any – on these pages only build on the back of observations and work of straight talking liberal thinkers and activists, who have stood up in difficult times to be counted and spoken truth to power. I believe their effort has firmly contained the right wing lurch of India, but there is much still to be done to reverse the tide of political and strategic toxicity. The book hopes to make a difference.

The book’s 72 commetaries are divided into 4 parts. The Strategy pages cover the issues arising in India-Pakistan relations, developments in Kashmir, internal security under assault by cultural nationalists and politico-military strategy. The Nuclear pages comprise articles on nuclear doctrine. The Military pages are devoted to the army that figured more often than usual in the headlines in the period owing to the visibility of its chief in the media. Finally, I cover the issue of security of India’s Muslim minority in the last part.


The Strategy pages

· Post poll national security options
· The National Security Agenda for the Next Government

· Can Shah Faesal bring the winds of political change to Kashmir?

· What is the difference between 'defensive offence' and 'offensive defence'?
Lessons learnt from the Balakot strike

· Balakot: Divining India’s strategy from its messaging
Where does the needle point?

· Pulwama: The counter attack

· India and Pakistan must de-escalate the current crisis

· Understanding India's land warfare doctrine

· Options before India to respond to the Pulwama terror attack

· Putting the army’s land warfare doctrine in the dock
· Why There Has Been No Military Response on Pulwama So Far

· Reminding The Political Class Of Clausewitz's First Injunction
· The Army's land warfare doctrine

· The land warfare doctrine: The army's or that of its Chief?

· Operation Kabaddi Revealed But Only Partially

· What do the echoes of Operation Kabaddi really say

· Kashmir: More of the hammer in the coming year

· Kashmir: Need for a peace process

· Kashmir: Towards peace with dignity

· Governor, 'root causes' matter

· Why the events in J&K are not good for democracy in the state
· Divide and kill

· Ajit Doval's platter: Centralisation with a purpose

· Making security a voter consideration
· India-Pakistan and the tussle of escalation dominance

· India-Pakistan: How dangerous are the waters?

· India-Pakistan: Ideology trumps strategy

· India on the brink

· Kashmir: When politics contaminates strategy

· India's spooks: Getting too big for their boots?

· Another disastrous idea from the Modi-Doval stable

· Decoding the Logic Behind the Shelving of India’s Mountain Strike Corps
· The army's two impulses in Kashmir: Human rights Doctrine and departures

· Human Rights: All so unfortunately ho-hum

· To fail Kashmir is to fail India
· Kashmir Peace Initiative: Depriving Pakistan Army Of A Lifeline

· What normalising the Sangh means for national security

· India’s military: Preparing for war in the nuclear age

· The Doval Scorecard
· India's internal security unravels

· A police wallah as proto Chief of Defence Staff

· War in 2018?

· Spiking possibilities: What is the army chief up to?

The nuclear pages

· India’s Nuclear Doctrine: Strategic Direction or Drift?

· Modi May Say Otherwise, But India Is Still Short of ‘Survivable Nuclear Deterrent’

· Modi at the Helm: Whither Nuclear Decision-making?
What nuclear weapons have done to us

· Are India’s nuclear weapons in safe hands?

The military pages

· Contextualising the army chief’s news making

· Selectivity in military justice

· Command responsibility in relation to good faith

· Opening up the cantonments: Army in the cross hairs of the right

· The army chief as regime spokeman?

· The Hindutva project and India's military

· Budget let down further strains army-government relations

· A revolt of the generals?

· A political army or an apolitical one?

· Dissension in the top brass?

· The General is at it again

· The Army: Introspection is warranted
The Chief has spoken; but is the Chief listening?

The Muslim minority pages

· Nailing the lies in name of national security

· Consequences for India’s minority of the gathering war clouds after Pulwama
· George Fernandes keeps his date with Gujarat carnage martyrs

· The minority security problematic

· Finally, the IS bogey laid to rest

· PM Modi's version of Rajdharma

· The army’s robustness in aid to civil authority: Lessons from the Gujarat Carnage

· On the Strongman myth

· A national security mess

· Noting the spokesperson-minister’s remarks

· An officer and gentleman: Worthy of a Muslim's ambition

· The 'incident': Nothing but political

· Is there an Indian 'deep state'?

· The dissident terror narrative