Breaking Through A Strategic Log-Jam
General NC Vij, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM

At the outset, the Modi Government needs to be complimented for administering a most befitting and unambiguous message to Pakistan that the continuing acts of terrorism perpetrated by its ‘deep state’, through its pet ‘jihadists’, would no more be tolerated in helplessness. That message was finally delivered after a decade of dithering during which political ‘will’ was held hostage to timid fears of ‘escalation’; and that in spite of being served by a highly professional military institution, when the present Government decided to call the bluff. Indeed, it was most praiseworthy that the entire response was well calibrated domestically, diplomatically and internationally.

On their part, by executing a clinically efficient operation along the Line of Control, India’s defence forces have once again established their professionalism in the cause of national security. The bold action also shows that there could also be other ways to complement India’s never ending peace overtures against the innate animosity of a compulsively hostile neighbour that Pakistan is.

Kashmir Valley has been on the broil for nearly three months. Though after stupendous efforts of the security forces the situation has been eased; peace and stability is yet to settle against continuous incitements – and incentives, as it is revealed - offered by the separatist elements to the gullible Kashmiri youngsters. Before that, a shorter but equally vicious version of the current turmoil in the Valley was enacted in 2010. In a parallel scheme, separatists of the Kashmir Valley have been openly hobnobbing with Pakistan embassy, begging the attention of certain Islamic countries and paying obeisance to Pakistan based and Wahabi funded fanatic groups. These crop of anti-nationals – Hurraiyat, Wahabi factions, rebellious ‘intelligentsia’ and ‘mafia dons’ who profit from anti-India activities - have undertaken to subvert the Indian nationhood from within. Simultaneously and in concert with venomous propaganda spread by that class, there have been an unending succession of terror attacks emanating from Pakistan’s soil to target vulnerable stretches of the Indo-Pak Border, the Line of Control and even in the Indian hinterland. Combined with the diplomatic misinformation campaign, the entire sequence points to a concerted plan to create a situation when India is really under unbearable pressure and force to make concessions.

India’s response to the serious national danger has been restrained. It has so far been condemning the ‘cowardly’ acts of Pakistan sponsored terror groups and holding out warnings of ‘not tolerating’ such attacks in future, besides, of course, tightening preventive measures. That restraint however, has failed to be taken seriously by the hardened terrorist groups and their benefactor – the Pakistan state. India’s diplomatic efforts to curb Pakistan’s policy of aiding, if not directly conducting terror attacks too did not yield results barring hollow platitudes offered by global principals - till they themselves came under attack. Diplomacy in any case is feeble unless backed by military resolve, especially in those cases wherein only the language of force is understood.

On the other end too, there is compulsion. Having fed their people with lies and pumped them into an anti-India frenzy over the past decades in order to retain their stranglehold on power, Pakistan’s elitist lords have no way to retract from sustaining their pathological ‘K’ dream, and turn it into the sole cause of Pakistan’s nationhood. Having failed to get to their objective through wars in 1947 and 65, they took to nurturing terrorist groups who then assumed the power of demanding, if not dictating, to the Pakistan state – the Army to be precise – the means and manners of launching terror attacks in India. Civilised world had in the meanwhile woken up to the dangers of the spreading mayhem, and have begun to expressing the fears of ‘terror group’, ‘lone wolf’ and ‘nuclear jihad’ descending upon them from Pakistan’s soil. But then, it is very difficult to wean away a deranged ‘deep state’ from violating the norms of civilised behaviour just by sermons alone.

Thus far, any talk of India exercising the option of some form of military reaction against the elaborate terrorist infrastructure created by the Pakistan state has been sought to be countered by Pakistan’s ‘threat’ of nuclear attack. Not wanting to feed brinkmanship, India has continued to exercise its ‘strategic restraint’ while trying many diplomatic and ‘soft’ methods to find an anti-dote to Pakistan’s venomous ventures – but in vain. The narrative had therefore been clear: Pakistan’s well thought out, carefully phased and steadily escalating scheme to externally and internally damage India’s national integrity would remain in full operation, while India would have to remain deterred from retaliating through legitimate application of military force.

India’s strategic log-jam was firm; in fact it was so since the 2008 Mumbai carnage when India chose be passive in its response. It was becoming clear that only a political will to back-up diplomatic efforts by a combination of bilateral sanctions and calibrated use of force could make sense to the habitual intransigent. The recent ‘surgical strike’ against terrorist launch pads was such a breakthrough out of this log-jam and a message to Pakistan. However, a rap in the knuckle like the ‘surgical strike’ is not likely to make Pakistan see reason. If anything, its Army would already be in the lookout for ‘revenge and glory’ no matter how ridiculous it could turn out to be. Therefore the Indian Government, having found the political ‘will’ and confidence, would do well to continue with all such measures that go to contain the unaccountable and conceited regime in Pakistan. No less important would be to remain in full alert against terror strikes which might affect citizens within and outside the state, all along the border, and in the hinterland India.

Seized by fanaticism and hatred, Pakistan is unlikely ever to let India progress in peace and stability – seven decades should be adequate to understand that. Time has also come to consider the issue of recovering the rest of the Jammu & Kashmir State – Baltistan, Gilgit and- work steadily towards its fruition. Further, concrete long term measures need to be adopted to harness India’s due share of water from the western rivers which have so far being allowed to flow into Pakistan.

India’s minimalist and mature exercise of the military option has been globally appreciated in various manners. The virtual pull out of all countries from the SAARC meeting in Pakistan is in itself a clear rejection of the policy of terrorism pursued by Pakistan. But as past experience reveals, global players would generally remain as fence-sitters while looking to squeeze individual advantages from either party. Therefore while welcoming diplomatic support, India would do well to work towards the preservation of its national interests all by itself, and by all means at its disposal. In that context, Pakistan’s flat denial of the said surgical strike points to its lies and bluffs. Pakistan would certainly react along the LoC, International Border and even in the hinterland.

We have to be vigilant and on the guard.

(Author is a former Army Chief and founder Vice Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority, is the Director of the Vivekananda International Foundation, New Delhi)

Published Date: 6th October 2016, Image Source:
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Vivekananda International Foundation)

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