First eBook edition published in India in 2014.
First print edition published in India in 2014 by CinnamonTeal Publishing.
Copyright © 2014 Firdaus Ahmed
Firdaus Ahmed asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of the work.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this book are the author’s own and the
facts are as reported by the author, and the publisher is not in any way liable for the same.
Although the author and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information
in this book was correct at the time of going to press, the author and publisher do not
assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption
caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence,
accident, or any other cause.
Ebook Development and Cover Design: CinnamonTeal Publishing
Cover art: Firdaus Ahmed
Plot No 16, Housing Board Colony
Goa 403601 India
I am greatly indebted to indiatogether.org for its patronage
through the years these commentaries appeared on its website.
The ideas and their readability has greatly been improved upon
by the perseverance of the editors. I am most grateful to Ashwin
Mahesh and Subramaniam Vincent for allowing my views space
from 2003 onwards on their website and to Satarupa Bhattacharya
for assistance in every way. This has helped me grow as a writer
and has enabled me to develop my perspectives. The joint effort
has hopefully proved useful for readers of their website and this
compilation of articles will serve the cause of peace.
I have tried to reflect the liberal perspective in security in
the webpages ‘Subcontinental Musings’ on the indiatogether.org
website. The subject itself being dominated by realists in general,
IndiaTogether’s interest in the liberal perspective has helped in
furthering it. This has been not only to the benefit of readers
but also for the debate between perspectives and for fleshing
out policy options in the security field. Alternatives have found
mention on these pages, alongside critique of security policies
through a peace studies lens.
The perspective presented here and ideas owe to my readings
as part of curricular and self study. The credit must therefore
go to authors and intellectuals who have laid out, defended and
furthered the liberal perspective in strategic, security and peace
studies. I hope I have been able to take their work further through
I have gained insight from the experience at my parents’ home.
Many ideas and interests that recur through these pages were
obtained and polished at their house that was to me a constant
refuge. Alongside, the support of my family in this project has
made it emerge as a book. It is a collective effort in every sense
and our contribution to peace in our times for all of us in India,
and South Asia, together.
This is a compilation of my articles that have appeared on the
website indiatogether.org between 2003 and 2014. The articles
cover the gamut of security and peace in India and the region. They
have been written from the liberal perspective. Taken together,
they are a record of the very interesting and at times dangerous
times, India and the region have transited through in the decade.
The ideas in the book are not new or original. They have been
thought up and thought through by intellectual giants in the field.
I have merely taken the opportunity to adapt them to the Indian
condition and interpret our times in the security field. I have been
privy to discussions in the strategic community and media and have
attempted to engage with the controversies and issues through
my commentaries. I have tried to present ideas to better current
policies and to show alternatives are available where such policies
are dangerous or potentially harmful. Collectively, the articles are
a trove for those interested in liberal perspective on security and
fill a gap in peace studies literature in the region.
I am putting the articles into one cover so as to ease access of
students, researchers and the attentive public to the ideas. They
appear in an abridged form in my blog www.subcontinentalmusings.
blogspot.in. The book must on this count be read in conjunction
with my other book – Think South Asia: A Stand for Peace. Think
South Asia comprises articles carried by websites other than
indiatogether.org. Together, the two books are my life contribution
to peace in the region and in our times.
This book is divided into five parts with articles arranged
chronologically. The themes are: national security, military affairs,
nuclear issues, internal security and minority affairs. The national
security part covers the whole gamut from regional security to
India’s relations with its neighbours, in particular its strategic
equations with Pakistan and China. The defence part has articles
dealing with Indian military and civil-military relations. I have
separately put together the articles dealing with nuclear issues
since I have brought a different view point to bear. My position
is that while nuclear weapons need to be got rid of earliest by
all, that they are likely to be around for some time, implies that
we need to engage also with the least dangerous way they can
be used. The other two parts are on internal security including
Kashmir and the last part on minority affairs.
Since the articles cut across international relations, regional,
strategic and peace studies, I hope the book will be consulted by
students, researchers and the attentive public. This way I hope it
will make a difference.
PART I - NATIONAL SECURITY
Indo-Pak talks: Getting past the eyewash
Reaching beyond its brief
To specialise or not?
Unity in Militarism
China in the strategic debate
Long road still ahead
What if Pakistan implodes?
Manufacture of a partner
Starving for England
The tangled triangle
Talk another day
Surgical strikes: Missing the mark
Our view, their view, the world-view
Making Kargil serve a purpose
Looking at China, missing Pakistan
Inward lens for incoming government
The coming fateful decisions
2009: A preview of security issues
Military cooperation with the US: A mixed bag
Is Vox Populi good enough?
This summer, at a border near you
Security agenda: 2006 and beyond
Political courage, and the next step
A new security agenda
Not yet history
A national confidence syndrome
Lies in the name of ‘security’
PM’s Peace Initiative : Much Ado?
Lessons from Baghdad
A debt we can do without
PART II - MILITARY ISSUES
Soldiers, not servants
An ambush loaded with meaning
The new ‘normal’ at the border
The strange case of 2nd Lt. Kalia
Expanding too fast?
Uncivil war in South Block
An age-old lesson
The ‘Age’ of misjudgement
Defence reforms: The next phase
The Army’s right to its opinion
AFSPA: Between battle lines
The government versus the military
Much hullaballoo, little cause
How deep is the rot?
The Indian Army: crisis within
Lessons from recent wars
Grand manoeuvre, yes, but to what end?
Politicisation and the Indian military
An illusory battleground
Hail to the new chief
Preparing for the wrong war
The calculus of ‘Cold start’
Chief of Defense : Implications
Must remain ‘unfinished’
Limited nuclear war, limitless anxiety
Questions in search of answers
PART III - NUCLEAR ISSUES
Getting ‘practical’ on No-First-Use
One gaffe too many
Whose command? Whose control?
The nuclear numbers game
Wanted: A peace movement
Making nuclear sense
Successful deterrence? Hardly.
Expansion in Indian nuclear theology
Unacceptable underside of ‘deterrence by punishment’
Of nukes and counter-nukes
Second Strike and false security
Missing the security target
PART IV - INTERNAL SECURITY
The fog of jungle warfare
Pause the mineral economy
A job for an infantryman
Awakening the somnolent state
An indirect response to terror
Internal security agenda for the new year
The Nagaland model for Kashmir
Special powers, mixed results
Kashmir after Nadimarg
PART V - MINORITY AFFAIRS
The relevance of Vanzara’s letter
A good school for Maqbool
The importance of being Asif Ibrahim
A secure minority, for a secure nation
Shall we imprison everyone?
In Muslim India, an internal battle
Muslim headcount: A useful controversy
About the Author