Ceasefire Violations: Has the time come to call the Pakistan’s bluff
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 10 Oct , 2014

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.

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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

Danvir Singh

Associate Editor, Indian Defence Review, former Commanding Officer, 9 Sikh LI and author of  book "Kashmir's Death Trap: Tales of Perfidy and Valour".

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8 thoughts on “Ceasefire Violations: Has the time come to call the Pakistan’s bluff

  1. A simple and well articulated piece – mature to say the least.
    The first option has been tried out over the decades but is not useful anymore as Pak has got used to it.
    The second option is more viable and can be used in combination with a watered down version of the third option that is – no air power and TBMs.
    And yes, Kargil has actually shown that it is possible to fight a long, bloody and limited conventional war with Pak right under the nuclear overhang till the time we don’t threaten any depth objective.
    The flip side is – by doing all this, we bring some unwanted focus upon Kashmir but I guess we can live with it.

  2. Apart from Indians still held as PoWs in Pakistan, there are criminals
    like Dawood Ibrahim and Hafeez Sayeed plotting India’s down fall under
    Pakistan’s protection . Unless India docks Pakistan by neutralizing its
    US bequeathed Nuclear technology and Terrorist Camps, it will be
    intransigent with the Chineses Mastiff on its leash. While First World
    War Trench Warfare techniques and a war of attrition over a resurrected
    Maginot line is better than appeasing Pakistan, it does no
    more than confirm the change of India’s mood that Pakistan still
    refuses to acknowledge. As regards the trench warfare itself, India
    would fare better with an “Ek Goli Ek Dushman” operation that exacts
    pain with every shot fired. Naturally there should be no talks until the
    PoWs and the terrorists are handed over and Pakistan professes peace in
    action rather than words.

  3. Pakistan after misadventure to invite Huriat for talks to Delhi, just before a very important India – Pakistan meeting after Modi elections, blew it. They completely misunderstood the Indian Prime Minister.

    The only thing which Nawaz Sherrif did not plan was that after talks failure, he would face a challenge at home from his political opponents. That took Pakistani Army and ISI to do behind the scene negotiations in which peace was restored to Rawalpindi but Nawaz Sherriff’s stature was greatly diminished.

    Nawaz went to UN General Assembly to raise the Kashmir issue. Very smart Modi, even at UN took him to task. On return, Pakistani Army with Nawaz’s concurrence decided one way to bring India back to negotiations on all matters including Kashmir was to create trouble at LOC and international border. To accentuate the matter, they decided to hit civilian population on the border. That will maximize casualities and bring international attention. India outsmarted Pakistan in that also. They fired back and destroyed their border support infrastructure.

    International press, with BBC in the lead was looking forward to magnify the issue by presenting Pakistani version of events. Surprisingly BBC, Reuter and other press agency slowly began to drift towards Pakistani version of events. They were reporting boom of Indian guns in retaliation but failed to report that these were in return for Pakistani firing. Somehow Pakistan wished to make hay in all that military spat.

    Today, they have brought the matter to the attention of UN. Pakistan is claiming to be the victim.

    What a clever move all along!

    To the Americans they have begun talking of nuclear confrontation, which the New York Times began to listen. All along they forgot that Pakistan has been the biggest liar for the last ten years. They hid Osma Bin Laden for ten years.

    It will useful to call Pakistan’s nuclear bluff by letting the situation worsen. After that In future they will never bother you.

    • Very well articulated.
      Option 1 articulated by the author has been tried out for ages without any gains. Pakistan is used to it. However, it is the second option which is more viable in combination with a watered down version of the third option (excluding air).
      There is no need to fall to the nuclear bluff. The Kargil war has proved adequately that a long, bloody and limited conventional war can be easily fought with Pak under the nuclear overhang till the time we don’t threaten any objectives in depth.
      And what is it with the comments?? Some are without sense, some are malicious while most are jingoistic!! Why can’t we remind ourselves that India is not Israel and neither is Pakistan a Palestine?

  4. Correctly brought out by the author Pakistan’s nefarious adveturism has been dashed to ground by our IA and BSF thus dictating in very clear terms the muscular power of armed forces and strong intentions of Modi govt so far unprovoked aggression of pak is concerned. As I see through strategic mirror Pak resorted to this border firing due to fwg reasons:-
    1. Pak is finding herself cornered both nationally and internationally.
    2. UN as well as USA payed no attention to nawaz sharif’s beating the same outdated drum of kashmir.
    3.US has asked Pak the balance sheet of the aid of 20 b $ already given and asked the expdr details whether it was utilized for terrorism or mil developments.
    4. Obama’s sudden changed response post Modi’s visit has really tensed Pak.
    5.So, Pak want to internationalise the issue by firing at the border to make international bodies realise the severity and escalation of kashmir issue to keep receiving the aid.
    6. As winter is nearing, so this is desperate attempt to assist infiltration.
    7. To bring down the image of indian army which is at its peak post kashmir floods.
    8. To check whether this govt will also be defensive like UPA earlier.
    9. Non state actors(not referring comic guy like Bilawal) duly supported by Army and ISI dont want peace otherwise their relevance will cease to exist.
    Very good and relevant article by the author. ……
    Sir you are requested to continue writing like this on imp issues. ..very enlightening and encouraging.

  5. A firm and rapid response in kind to Pakistan’s firing is a must. Beyond that, India must prepare to push back on the nuclear threat being tossed around in Pakistan. Note this threat implies Pakistan committing suicide in the process but such is the desperation of a nation on the verge of collapse. India, however, has to prepare with due diligence a full force nuclear retaliation strategy should Pakistan cross the line. India’s nuclear missile armed submarines and bombers should be on a permanent patrol off the coast of Karachi ready to strike at Karachi and Islamabad with the objective of total destruction. Let Pakistan know in advance the fate awaiting if they embark upon nuclear weapons in the battlefields of Kashmir or Rajasthan. There is no such thing as a field operational nuclear device. Use of a nuclear weapon, no matter how small changes the ballgame, since it will initiate the use of bigger devices with lightning speed. The side that is slow to react will experience the nuclear holocaust. US and Russia have been able to maintain détente over the last sixty years based on retaliation capability on each side. Pakistan’s bluff can be easily called out by punishing the evil doers on the border aggressively with conventional tools.

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