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Motivated hype? - The Hindustan Times

Editorial ()
October 13, 1998

Title: Motivated hype?
Author: Editorial
Publication: The Hindustan Times
Date: October 13, 1998

The Sunday Telegraph report on India's purportedly "secret" plans for
simulated war games on its border with Pakistan is a good example of
hyperbolical hearsy which, on closer examination, would hold as much
water as in a porous porringer. The report claims that over 100,000
Indian troops are to participate in the simulated war game involving
operations on land and air in the Thar desert, besides possible
amphibious landings on India's western strands overlooking the Arabian
Sea. Which is all quite true, and certainly makes for a good news story,
had it not gone on to quote Western intelligence sources as having
attributed ulterior motives to the Indian martial exercises. They
include such farfetched scenarios as the one wherein the exercises are
suddenly converted into a surprise offensive on Pakistan and
Pakistan-occupied territories. Indeed, observers had expressed similar
apprehension back in 1987 when Exercise Brass Tacks sent Pakistani
generals into conniptions and they launched Zarb-e-Momin in response,
moving Pakistani armour upto the Punjab border to counter what they
feared was a massive Indian thrust in the Thar. Exercise Chequerboard,
which followed close on the heels of Brass Tacks, on the central and
eastern sectors of the Sino-Indian border, had also elicited startled
,grunts from a suspicious Beijing.

Anyway, shorn of exaggeration, the facts about the proposed exercises
seem anything but extraordinary. For one thing, the Indian Armed Forces
routinely conduct such operations during every Training Year which, in
this case, ends in June 1999. The scale of such essays may vary from the
major manoeuvres which are planned once in three years, to the low-level
exercises undertaken every couple of years. The suggestion that some
political formation or the other may use these martial movements to gain
political mileage in an election year, though allusive, is also
fanciful, since South Block had drawn up the schedule as early as last
February, much before the announcement of any poll dates. And as for the
perceived minatory nature of these exercises on the Indo-Pak border,
they are conducted with a north-south orientation away from the
frontier, and not along an east-west thrust line towards it. Similarly,
Western fears of the winter timings set for the manoeuvres are
unfounded, since the largescale movement of armour would otherwise
destroy crop patterns in the region at other of the year.

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