Heavy firing by Pakistani troops from across the International Border in RS Pura sector in Jammu region began on the night of Oct 5th. Since then it has been “continuing intermittently” as I write. Most of the casualties on the Indian side happened when shells landed in Arnia village during the initial salvos.
The naivety of Jawahar Lal Nehru who halted the winning Indian army in its tracks and went to UNO for help managed this issue to get internationalised, the consequences of which are still suffered by India till date.
Indian security forces have responded effectively and extensively. They have swiftly gained an upper hand in this heavy exchange of mortar fire witnessed so far. On the night of 9-10 Oct the border largely remained peaceful as the firing was reported only in Samba sector for about 15 minutes. Arun Jaitely’s warning and response of our security forces seems to have worked.
On the 9th of Oct, the Indian Defence Minister Mr Arun Jaitely issued a stern warning to Pakistan over its continued firing across the International Border escalating tensions. He said addressing a press conference, “If Pakistan persists with this adventurism our forces will make the cost of this adventurism unaffordable.” He further said “India is a responsible state. It is never an aggressor. But at the same time, it has a paramount duty to defend its people and its territory. Our Armed Forces particularly the Army and the BSF in this case have only one option – that is to respond adequately and defend our territory and our people.”
Soon in response to Arun Jately there was a statement from the Pakistani counterpart. Pakistan’s Defence Minister Mr Khawaja Asif said that the country is capable of responding “befittingly” to Indian actions on the border of Jammu and Kashmir. Reminding India of Pakistan’s nuclear umbrella, he said, “We do not want the situation on the borders of two nuclear neighbours to escalate into confrontation,” Mr Khawaja Asif advised India to demonstrate caution and behave with responsibility.
Pakistan has fought three major wars with India in the past. The 1947-48 Jammu and Kashmir conflict was the first war between the two countries. India claims victory in the fact that they prevented the Pakistanis from annexing the state by timely armed intervention. This was initiated under the internationally accepted legal framework in case of accession. On the contrary Pakistan draws comfort in the fact that the armed intervention by its tribal’s supported by the military, she could manage to grab a large portions of the state of Jammu and Kashmir which otherwise was next to impossible. The naivety of Jawahar Lal Nehru who halted the winning Indian army in its tracks and went to UNO for help managed this issue to get internationalised, the consequences of which are still suffered by India till date.
…India should not lose this opportunity in calling the Pakistani nuclear bluff by hitting out at the enemy well below the threshold…
The defeats of 1965 and utter humiliation and military disgrace of 1971 has not forced Pakistan to acquiesce to India but on the contrary hardened its resolve to fight the mighty neighbour. Its strategic objective is not limited to the bilateral dispute of Kashmir alone. As per Christine Fair, Pakistan’s military literature clearly maintains that the Pak Army also aims to resist India’s position of regional dominance and global ascent. Pakistanis consider threat from India in ideological and civilization terms rather than those of security. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s statement in the UNGA last month is a testimony to this strategic line of thought of Pakistan’s establishment.
Pakistan after acquiring nuclear weapons is somehow convinced that the threat to use these weapons will deter India from taking any action against it. Emboldened by this status, it has since 1998 become increasingly aggressive in its stance against India and Kargil mini war of 1999 is the first example to that. Pakistani players have not hesitated in orchestrating attacks with the help of jihadists on the Indian parliament in 2001 and later in Mumbai in 2008 and all this hiding behind the nuclear bluff.
Pakistan has all the while managed to conjure fears of nuclear conflict in South Asia and prevented India from any punitive military action against it, in giving a befitting reply to her belligerence. All this appears to have changed with the change in the political landscape of India. The government is now dominated by the “black caps”. These right wing nationalists have always advocated strong military action against Pakistan and it seems they have found the LoC cease fire violations as a means to do so.
I guess India will not lose this opportunity in calling the Pakistani nuclear bluff by hitting out at the enemy well below the threshold and sustain the conventional conflict for a longer duration which gets untenable both militarily and economically. Within the constraints of this elbow space, to my mind India has the following options:
…give response to Pakistani cease fire violations by employing long range heavy caliber weapons along with the use of Air Force from well within our territory.
- To continue a tit for tat on the LoC, keeping the confrontation alive at the existing violence levels for a very long duration, India can thus increase the economic and human cost just like we managed in 2003 in response to Pak army firing, forcing them to seek a cease fire.
- Take the battle in his territory. This can be affected by nibbling some posts and vulnerable areas along the LoC. In simple terms create a Kargil for Pakistan army. This would be near impossible for the Pak Army to clear seeing their conventional capabilities.
- To give response to Pakistani cease fire violations by employing long range heavy caliber weapons along with the use of Air Force from well within our territory. Bombard enemy’s posts all along the LoC simultaneously denying him the flexibility to maneuver without him climbing the escalatory ladder to its own peril.
In all these options Pakistan will not be able to play the nuclear card since these options are far below the threshold that threatens the existence of the Pakistani state. However the trick lies in provoking the enemy into aggression which can be responded through the stated Second or the Third options.