• 20 April, 2024
Geopolitics & National Security
Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd)
Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd)

Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd), PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM* former Commander of Indian Army’s Srinagar Corps, focuses on trans-national and internal conflicts in Asia and the Middle East with particular emphasis on issues revolving around radical Islam.  He is the Chancellor of Central University of Kashmir and speaks extensively at Indian and international institutions on a wide variety of subjects revolving around strategic affairs and leadership. He is presently a Member of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

Articles Lists


From Part 1 Is the Indian push back that we have witnessed in the last few weeks, and serially discussed in several video discussions, sufficient in weight and content to convey a message to China? Is it a cautionary measure and will China take it as such? Or will China come hurtling down once ag


By now the backdrop is clear and almost getting stale. Yet, it may be worth recalling the sincerity with which India recommenced its engagement with Xi Jinping’s China soon after the NDA government came to power in May 2014. It appeared that China too was reviewing its stance in the then emerging


Some good and professional sounding analyses on the Indian Army’s organization and capability have recently found their way into the public domain; one could also consider some of these a little too professionally done, with obvious military advice of course. They are transparent and reveal the or


While all the counting and the conjectures on government formation go on, I draw the attention of my readership to the strategic fallout of the Pakistan election, and this is something you can expect in greater measure from my keyboard, as we progress in the next few months. It isn’t easy to draw


Even as full-blown wars such as the ones between Russia and Ukraine, and between Israel and Hamas, rage without decisive results, there are many situations around the world which remain poised for war at the pull of a trigger. Strategists and academics call these by all kinds of romantic terms such


Nations deploy personnel from their armed forces in different neighbouring countries mostly for security and good will, that is if the politico-diplomatic relationship is cordial or something even better. Receiving nations do not become colonies of the providers simply because of having foreign sold


When a man as experienced as Lloyd Austin talks about war and its strategic linkages the world needs to perk up and take note. Austin is not a political US Defence Secretary but a hard-core military one who has seen more hybrid war conditions and the resultant effects of those than what many can boa


Customarily, ceasefire in intense conventional operations is rare. The party undertaking the offensive could hardly be keen to cause a break in the tempo of operations, where the time in which operations are to be completed is the crucial factor. The attacker usually employs the concept of simultane


This is an article in continuation of the author’s Part 1 published in Chanakya Forum on 22 Sep 2023 A bold decision on 5th August 2019 removed J&K from the ambit of Article 370 and created a new governance model for the erstwhile state of J&K. Jammu and Kashmir regions remained togethe


For many years there have been comparisons between the situations in West Asia in terms of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and the proxy war existing in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). Both regions have had bouts of all out conventional war and then long festering hybrid war situations. Pakistan conti


My first ever geopolitical study in life was in Jun 1967, at the beginning of the Six Day War. I requested my history teacher to explain to us all what exactly was happening in West Asia, with the closure of the Gulf of Aqaba by Egypt and the build-up of pan Arab forces on Israel’s borders. After


The Kokernag encounter received considerable attention in the media. Social circles in various towns and cities I have recently visited were also discussing it, especially if they happen to have someone in the know from the Army, who is reasonably experienced in operations of this kind. Lots of misn

Ukraine’s Offensive: Is This The Last-Ditch Battle?

In the context of the Russia-Ukraine war, since April 2023 we have been constantly hearing of a likely ‘counter-offensive’ by Ukraine to overcome the negatives of the alleged defeat at Bakhmut where a battle of attrition raged for the last ten months. An offensive action by the Ukrainian army ha

Pakistan, With Head Above The Water : Way The Cookie Crumbles

I am becoming increasingly more confident at answering the inevitable question about Pakistan that is thrown at me in seminars, interviews and interactions on geopolitics. The question revolves around Pakistan’s survivability in the light of all that is happening in that country. I invariably opin

G20 In Srinagar : Threats And Opportunities

With two days left for the G20 Tourism Working Group Meeting in Srinagar on May 22-24, 2023, national and international focus on this unusual event is becoming rife. There are more than 200 meetings undertaken with the G20 banner all over India, since India is the Chairman of G20 for 2023. Why then

Surviving The Burnout: A Virtual Coup By The Pakistan Army Is Already In The Making

Pakistan has been in turmoil for some time, especially since its economy started showing signs of near-total collapse a little more than a year ago. The IMF placed tough conditions for its US$6 billion loan to be handed out, and the Saudis and UAE conditioned their loan bailouts on the demands of th

The 9 PARA (SF) Setback Is Temporary : Bounceback Is Inevitable

India’s Special Forces (SF) are its pride and the entire nation follows their actions and achievements with great interest. Hence the setback on May 5 in a recent operation in Rajouri’s Bhatta Durian Forest, where five brave hearts of 9 Para SF were killed in the line of duty, has obviously crea

The Poonch Terrorist Attack Has Big Strategic Implications

On 20 April 2023 a convoy of vehicles of the Army was targeted by terrorists between Bhimbar Gali and Poonch in the Jammu region. One Army 2.5-ton truck was struck with grenades and small arms, causing casualties and setting on fire the vehicle resulting in the personnel travelling being unable to e

SIACHEN 1987 : A Story Forgotten

Siachen is one of those battlefields from where very little information flows rearwards. Great feats of valour remain buried there, forgotten with nary a memory. Over time a ceasefire has become effective and casualties are primarily by weather and terrain. It's peaceful there today although the cha

Drawing Down The Army In J&K – Right But Risky

The ethno-nationalist conflict of Northern Ireland, although in existence for long, began in its last avatar in the late Sixties and ended with the Good Friday Agreement in 1997. It was an internal conflict with some external linkages. When I visited the region in 2006 on a professional tour, I quer

The Payoffs Of Disaster Diplomacy

At least two devastating earthquakes in the region of the Türkiye-Syria border near the south eastern province of Kahramanmaras, north of Gaziantep and near the border of Syria, have left the two nations in despair. The area is known for big seismic activity, but for long it has not witnessed somet

Pakistan Under Unending Strain : Part II

 ‘If  the economic situation does not lead to its collapse, its militant groups will ensure prevention of its survival’ Part I of this essay emphasized on getting the background right, for without that a complex nation such as Pakistan cannot be understood. Nations with a propensity to pursue

Pakistan Under Unending Strain – Part 1

Pakistan has for long, been heading towards a situation where it could be perceived as a failed state, or at least a state under immense strain. Everything that goes into the efficient functioning of a nation appears under stress. The economy, internal stability and security, political leadership an

Why the Victory of 1971 Must Remain a Psychological Landmark

In India the mention of ‘1971’, in a gathering or individually, evokes elative sentiments of victory. Having defeated Pakistan comprehensively on the battlefield, attained both the political and military objectives in 14 days and created a new nation (Bangladesh), India could justifiably be prou

The Yangtse Standoff : With or Against the Run of Play

One of the highlights of the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Qatar are some of the results against the run of play. A perfectly balanced game suddenly goes in favour of a side willing to show a brief spurt of energy and activity. The situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China al

A New Pakistan Army Chief : The World and India Remain Wary

Apprehension about a change in command of the Pakistan Army has been rife for fairly long. Although everything about Pakistan remains unpredictable, the announcement of the appointment of Lt Gen Asim Munir as the next Pakistan Army Chief to succeed General Qamar Bajwa has somehow not really created

How the Practice of Illegal Terror Financial Networks Functions in a Proxy War Zone?

Three fascinating events relating to counter terrorism took place in quick succession over the last eight weeks. First was the meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which took Pakistan off the grey list and classified it white. The world’s response to this appeared muted although Pakis

Are Paradigms of Indo-US Relations Changing?

Little did the world expect that the war in Ukraine would become such a spoiler of global geopolitics that many emerging and well-established international relationships would get challenged. The conflict’s geostrategic location, players, links, economic impact and scope for spread has made it the

A Reminder for India : 13 October was International Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Day

CHANAKYA FORUM IS COMMITTED TO EXECUTE REQUISITE RESPONSIBILITIES FOR REDUCTION OF DISASTER RISK AND ENHANCEMENT OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT CULTURE, FOR THE SAKE OF HUMANITY. Headlines in the media inform us every day of the new phenomenon of October rains in North India and how this is going to impact

The Ukraine War: From Here to Where?

The dynamics of war will always remain unpredictable. In February 2022 the reputed Russian war machine was expected to flatten all resistance of the Ukrainians in a matter of days. During the last six months, Russia has had to change course and address alternative objectives within Ukraine when it m

The Pelosi Visit to Taiwan: Why All the Tension?

It happened all of a sudden. A visit to Taiwan by US Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi was known to be on the cards around this time. Yet there wasn’t any certainty. Her scheduled visit to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan had been announced, with some speculation about

Staking Out and Striking Ayman al Zawahiri

It took ten years to take out Osama bin Laden (OBL) after chasing him through the mountains of Afghanistan. He was ultimately cornered in Abbottabad 800 meters from the gates of Pakistan Military Academy. No one knows whether he was living there with the connivance of the Pakistan Army or whether th

Pakistan in Endless Churn  

During the dying days of the government of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan, he continued to insist on his own popularity. As he struggled to survive against the combined opposition, everyone disbelieved him except a few. The latter were those who were correctly reading the radicalizati

NATO’s Madrid Summit and the Potential Expansion to Include Finland and Sweden

With war in Eastern Europe, and one involving Russia, could a NATO summit be far behind. Ever since 1991 when the Soviet Union finally broke up and NATO rejoiced in victory there hasn’t been an occasion as serious as the one being currently encountered in Europe. We saw turbulent situations in the

India’s Strategic Communication – Need for a Policy and Capability Development

In the last ten years or so, the number of times I have spoken on the need for a policy on strategic communication along with a coordinated capability for India, actually surpasses the number of times I have spoken on Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) or the Line of Control (LoC), both my core areas of

The Significance of India’s Continued Presence at G7 Summits

In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic and the economic havoc it has wreaked on the world, everyone's concern is about stability, to return to a situation of normalcy and ensure recovery.  Thus, the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau, the picturesque venue in southern Germany, is mostly about recovery fro

Indo-Pacific: The Quad Summit Returns Focus to the World’s Biggest Potential War Theatre

How much the world is nearing a catastrophic confrontation and how intimidated China feels about the response to its coercive aggression in the Indo Pacific, was made evident by the fact that even as the just concluded summit of the Quad was ending in the Japanese capital Tokyo, two warplanes each f

J&K : Is There a Serious Threat to Today’s Good Times?

It is always good to review the security situation in regions which have faced major internal security challenges in the past. In the case of J&K, which suffered intense terrorism for over 30 years, the situation continues to remain a developing one because the Pakistan sponsored proxy war launc

India’s Transformational Diplomatic Leap into Europe

I cannot recall India’s relations with Europe, as a whole, ever being anything more than transactional. Despite the Indian public’s fascination for Europe and the US, it’s only the latter who could develop a deeper relationship with India, now progressing on the strategic platform. Although In

Living with Geopolitical Unpredictability : India’s Current Strategic Challenges

The last two years have seen geopolitical turbulence of higher intensity than what one can remember any time in the recent past. Perhaps the period 1989-91 was comparable, as the Cold War order was then imploding and the Soviet Union was giving way to the formation of 15 independent republics. The F

Imran Khan’s Sinking Ship and its Impact

Pakistan’s reputation as a democracy just got retrieved after the Pakistan Supreme Court in its judgment turned the clock back, just as it should have.  The Opposition and the Bar Council had filed a case in the Supreme Court against the refusal of the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly to

The Chinese in New Delhi: Indicators of an Altering World Order

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited New Delhi on 24 March 2022, against the run of geopolitical play, adopting a visit format generally frowned upon by India. He decided to fly in after spending some time in Pakistan and came via the Kabul route, thus ostensibly returning the subcontinent to

Mid-Course Through the Ukraine Crisis : Lessons for India

As an international crisis which has led to a high profile conventional war scenario, the first in the last 19 years, the Russia-Ukraine war is drawing the focus of analysts from multiple domains. It's a scenario which has links to diplomacy, war fighting, economics, humanitarian affairs and much mo

War in Ukraine : Miscalculations Galore

Those who stick out their necks early in developing military and geopolitical situations many times tend to eat crow. I have experienced this over time but yet continue to repeat the folly. In most earlier analyses I had assessed that Putin would not go to war over the Ukraine issue because he could

Can a Pulwama or an Uri Occur Again?

February appears to be a month of anniversaries of events in J&K. On 14 February was the third anniversary of the IED attack near Pulwama on a CRPF bus bringing personnel from leave; 40 brave hearts lost their lives in that incident, making it one with the highest casualties in a single event in

The Ukraine Standoff and its Larger Global Impact

When Ukraine erupted as a geopolitical issue in 2014 there were competing international events and geopolitical stories which were moving parallelly in those times. As the narrative progressed the Russian moves on Crimea also drew serious concerns of the international community, as much as its attem

Warmongering in Europe :  The NATO-Russia Standoff Over Ukraine

Just recently Russia tried a good but very old method of psychological warfare. It widely publicised how many quarts of human blood of different types was being sent to the ‘war front’ as mass casualties could be expected if it were to decide to invade Ukraine. It was a loud message that Russia

Pakistan’s J&K Allegations in London: Ridiculous, but Never Underestimate

When ‘hybrid’ is the strategy a nation indulges in, its intent is to exasperate, break, frustrate and defeat the adversary, and no stone is left unturned to achieve that. Any and every domain available is exploited to probe in a bid to create openings and feel the weak spots. The reported Pak

Pakistan’s National Security Policy: An Analysis

A National Security Policy (NSP) paper has recently been released by Pakistan purportedly after working seven years on it through a vast consultative process. There are two parts of the policy, a classified portion and a public document. The latter, about a 50-page document attempts to address Pakis

In the New Year China Initiates Its Well-known Strategies

2022 began with a couple of events occurring at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). An exchange of sweets at some of the friction points took place reportedly after a long gap; a supposedly good tension reliever with a message of goodwill which did not achieve its intent beyond a single day. Immediate

Punjab on Pakistan’s Scanner : The International Connect With a Burning Indian Internal Security Problem

I have not followed Punjab’s politics too avidly for quite some time now.  However, with even basic knowledge and experience of serving there in the heyday of militancy and terror, my current hypothesis is that the state is being systematically subjected to a form of externally sponsored proxy co

In Troubled Times a Russian Call is Welcome

President Putin is visiting India at a significant time although it’s a part of the Annual Indo-Russian Summit, the last of which was held in 2019. In 2020 it was given a pass due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Reflecting back, 2019 was a different world; it is surprising how the dynamics of inter

Kashmir : The Negative Spiral Returns

There are certain characteristics in insurgencies or terror campaigns, and the counter operations undertaken to neutralize them, especially in the Indian context. The belief emanating from my Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism (CI/CT) experience is that the propensity of the security forces (S

Regional Meeting of NSAs, A Timely Initiative

One of the prime reasons for the timely initiative on Afghanistan taken by India’s National Security Advisor (NSA) is the serious effort by both Pakistan and China to deny an Indian role in Afghanistan, post the US withdrawal. Among Pakistan’s multiple aims of treating Afghanistan as its backyar

Drone Attack on Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa Al Khadimi Will Complicate Iraq’s Complex Politics

For fairly long the attention of the world has been focused on Afghanistan and the various shenanigans related to the Taliban 2.0. A presumption seemed to prevail that all was quiet in the Middle East. With the US drawing down its forward presence, relative attention and preparation for its shift of

Contextualizing The Poonch Operations : Time Delay in Completion is Inevitable

The recent operations against terrorist presence in the Bhata Dhurian forest area north of the Rajouri – Surankote road in the Poonch sector, began on 11 October 2021. It almost immediately led to a contact with an undetermined number of terrorists in which five brave hearts were Killed in Action.

Challenges of Disaster Management in India

13 October each year is marked as the day that celebrates how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters and raising awareness about the importance of reining in the risks that they face. It’s only appropriate that we in India use the occasion to enhance aware

The Iran Factor in Post Afghanistan Geopolitics

Common belief in geopolitical circles has always considered Iran, with its Shia orientation, as being completely opposed to the Taliban because of the obscurantist Sunni ideology that the latter follows. However, Shelly Kittleson, a journalist focusing on the Middle East and Afghanistan writes –

The Afghanistan Kaleidoscope

As Afghanistan becomes more complex one is tempted to recall events in memory which caused similar confusion. None qualifies more than 9/11 when the world was really stumped; terror, lawlessness and rogue behavior seem to be all pervading and which way things would move remained uncertain. With the

The Pakistan TLP Phenomena

The Pakistan TLP Phenomena Pakistan always presents such profound options to the weekly columnist. Yet, the last two weeks have actually been beyond all expectations. From turning down trade with India to witnessing yet another imploding situation with the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan or TLP, earlier