Military & Aerospace

The Winnable War
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Issue Vol 21.3 Jul-Sep 2006 | Date : 01 Jul , 2011

Between 1990 and 2005, in J&K alone India has lost 16000 civilians, 6000 security personnel, as against 20000 terrorists. The ratio of troops to terrorist killed is approximately 1:3. To the champions of human rights, the figures could not be more revealing. On the other hand, the Pak Army has not been loosing personnel in this low intensity conflict in J&K. They have been selfish and manipulative enough in infusing the misguided youth with so called jihadi rationale and then using them as canon fodders.

How many more casualties and for how long India should suffer? New Delhi must seize the initiative to deliver a decisive blow to terrorism sponsored by Pakistan. India should be willing to fight its own war, if necessary, in standalone mode. This war for New Delhi is also winnable by developing a sound offensive-defence strategy by incorporating lethality of covert and overt methodology.

Pakistan, whose geo-strategic location has come to its rescue from the brink of collapse on many occasions in the past, has never been so strategically vulnerable as it is today. It has been compelled to disown its creation- Taliban. Its nuclear assets according to Musharraf’s admission in the aftermath of US led war in Afghanistan were in jeopardy on account of US pressure and concerns.

The nuclear proliferation activities in the past by Pakistan have forced it on the defensive. It is also under increasing pressure to tackle the remnants of Taliban and Al Queada in cooperation with the NATO forces.

In fact, it is the past misdemeanors of Islamabad that has contributed to the deployment of NATO forces for the first time in the history of the region. India must realize that this is the most opportune strategic moment post 1971 to deal with Pakistan decisively. Pakistan has never let go of any such strategic opportunities. It exploited its frontline status during the war against Soviet forces to embark on low intensity conflict and terrorism against India particularly in J&K. Also Pakistan has never faced a more precarious internal security situation after 1971.

The volatile Wazaristan and Balochistan province are on boil, compelling the deployment of more than 1,00,000 Army personnel.

The strategic objective of US and India with regard to Pakistan-Afghanistan region converges at present. India and the US need to militarily cooperate on a quid-pro-quo basis in busting the epicenter of terrorism i.e. in Pakistan-Afghanistan region, whose reach is till the US, and the sweep is 360 degrees. India has excellent manpower resources, as also the unparalleled experience of fighting the jihadi elements in J&K for about two decades. The US and the western world have the financial muscle and technological prowess. If these could be combined it would make the most lethal combination.

While acting in military concert, the US and India together should undertake to:-

  • Isolate the jihadis ideologically.
  • Destroy jihadi recruiting infrastructure and training camps.
  • Compel Pakistan to supplant madrasas with modern institutions.
  • Create fissures within the jihadi groups.
  • Neutralize drug money and other financial and arms channels of jihadi groups.
  • Neutralize fundamentalist and terrorist leadership.
  • Expose the vulnerabilities and double standards of the jihadi groups.
  • Disallow Pakistan to gain foothold in Afghanistan, as this will ultimately consume Central Asia in jehadi fervour.
  • Sandwich Pakistan between their forces so that Kabul and Kashmir may live in peace.

In the war against terrorism, victories are difficult to be judged. There are no definable territorial objectives as in the case of conventional wars between states. It is not to suggest that terrorism, which India and the world are combating, would be eliminated. But it can be brought to a tolerable level. Remnants of terrorism will be there; nevertheless, it would be reduced to the level of “law and order problem”. What in fact Osama bin Laden achieved was that he managed to coordinate and combine the activities of various jihadi organizations active in different parts of the world. On their own most of these groups lacked potency, but became formidable with the guidance and support of the nerve center located in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region. The sum of parts was therefore more than the total. If the epicenter is busted, the various parts are bound to loose teeth and fall apart.

This war is winnable if Washington and New Delhi wage it intelligently with display of good generalship.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Bharat Verma

A former Cavalry Officer and former Editor, Indian Defence Review (IDR), and author of the books, India Under Fire: Essays on National Security, Fault Lines and Indian Armed Forces.

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One thought on “The Winnable War

  1. 🙁 With Capt Verma, we lost the pioneer who started military stretegic thnking in our country. His magic was to project everything in simple words…no complex military terms. he would alway put it straight & simple. Irreplacable loss:(

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