Homeland Security

Tall Story - Ceasefire
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 06 Feb , 2018

Pakistan has deliberately upped the ante at the border. Cross border actions and shelling has intensified. As per reports, missiles are also being used by Pakistan. Since January 3, 2018, 12 Army and BSF personnel have been killed in Samba, Sunderbani, RS Pura, Krishna Ghati, Mendhar and Bhimber Gali Sectors. Civilians and suffered equally with eight killed and many injured. Scores of schools have been shut. Pakistan is fully gripped by its army with political control over the nation dead, going by its own media (https://nation.com.pk/03-Feb-2018/dead-end-of-the-afghan-policy).

The Pakistani Army is hand in glove with terrorists like global terrorist Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi with full backing of China. Open rallies are being conducted in Pakistan for jihad against India, calling for breaking up India and undertaking terrorist attacks in India cities. Pakistan is offering scholarships to Kashmiri youth to radicalize them and perhaps train them for lone wolf attacks.

In J&K, the environment is pathetic north of Pir Panjal. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has released over 9700 plus stone-pelters and withdrawn all cases against them. Unleashing them against the Army in Shopian has helped her postpone the panchayat elections. She has the audacity of filing police FIR against the Army when latter had to open fire on her stone-pelting brood in self defence and while the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is very much in vogue.

Omar Abdullah of National Conference sides with the stone-pelters and says they are only pelting stones for their watan (Country), as if J&K is his ancestral property and these slogan-shouting rowdies his private army. Not only are these politicians in league with cross-border terrorists, appears they are also sending emissaries across for insidious deals. With news reports showing hardcore separatist Asiya Andrabi attending anti-India rally, it is apparent that the state has been complicit in facilitating her visit.

There is hyperbole in the media that because of some 200 terrorists killed last year Pakistan bokhla gaya hai (Pakistan has gone berserk). That would surely not be the case since 32,000 madrassas in Pakistan produce some 1,00,000 radicals annually. There are questions on social media whether we have a ceasefire agreement with Pakistan but what agreement when during 2017 alone there were 860 ceasefire violations (CFVs) by Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) and 120 along the International Border (IB).

The UN Military Observers for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) don’t sit on the LoC or IB, and so Pakistan denies all CFVs, alleging India is initiating cross-border fire every time. Hence there is little merit in counting the number of CFVs by Pakistan. During 2017, we suffered 15 Army, 4 BSF and 12 civilians killed. Pakistan’s mouthpiece, the LeT, claims much more. On our part, we claim Pakistan has suffered more dead than us, though Pakistan does not reveal any figures and these are generally based on communication intercepts.  There is perceptible rage in India; all calling for strict action  against Pakistan.

General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff stated recently that the Pakistan Army is “suffering three to four times the number of casualties compared to us” in the CFVs. But put yourself in the shoes of Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan army chief and you have a different perspective. Democracy may be defunct in Pakistan but for the army to stay in power, he has to escalate conflict with India and Afghanistan.

The nexus with terrorist organization and rabid mullahs is to control and divert attention from Pakistan’s sovereignty bartered for fiscal gains to China, rising instability within Pakistan and the restive radicalized youth mass with only 39.1% of the population urban.

As per Zahid Hussain, the exploding population bomb is has put Pakistan’s future in jeopardy with 60% of the population younger than 30, some 1/3rd living in poverty and 58% illiterate (https://www.dawn.com/news/1354793/exploding-population-bomb). Incidentally, the median age in Pakistan is just 22.7 years (http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/pakistan-population/). Pakistan’s population bomb is to rise to 240 million by 2030 (https://www.dawn.com/news/1221289). So do you think Bajwa is bothered about loss of lives in Pakistan?

In addition to the above, China wants its pound of flesh in instigating Pakistan more and more against India, diverting attention from all that China is doing and planning astride the Himalayas, the Indian Ocean Region, India’s immediate neighbor and in Afghanistan. Ironically, the US is continuing joint military training with Pakistan, Pentagon has denied any plans to undertake operations inside Pakistan and a bill is being moved to stop non-military aid to Pakistan; indicating that Trump’s Af-Pak policy with respect to Pakistan is more oomph and short on substance.

With the pressure of increasing western economic sanctions, Russia has been leaning towards Pakistan and Taliban. Similarly, because of the US-Iran estrangement, Iran too is siding to some extent with Pakistan and the Taliban. Hence, in this dynamic of geopolitical jigsaw, India needs to fight its own war.

In the above context, how are our actions viewed from outside our borders. In June 2015, India conducted raids deep inside Myanmar against Naga insurgent camps. This was in hot pursuit to insurgents who had ambushed an army convoy in Chandel area of Manipur and killed 18 soldiers. In September 2016, India conducted ‘surgical strikes’ in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) against terrorist launch pads just across the LoC in retaliation to terrorist attack by a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide group against our Army post at Uri on September 18, 2016.

A day after young Captain Kapil Kundu and three soldiers (Havaldar Roshan Lal, Rifleman Ram Avtar and Rifleman Shubham Singh) were killed in heavy shelling by Pakistani forces recently, Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Sarath Chand warned of strong retaliatory action to avenge the losses, in saying, “That (retaliation) goes without saying. I think I don’t have to say that. (Our) action will speak for itself.”  What is conspicuous in all these Indian actions, including the ‘surgical strikes; is that they were technically in “retaliation”, which needs to change.

On top of this we have gone about bragging how we conducted the ‘surgical strikes’; write ups, documentation, video clips, parading participants on TV channels – all defying the code Special Forces operations are covert for firmly signaling enemy, not for political brownies.

There are arguments that the US raid to kill Osama bin-Laden is also publicized and that the Army also was party to publicizing ‘surgical strike’. But it is not understood that US doesn’t have to undertake a second raid in Abbotabad, whereas we need to perhaps repeat surgical strikes time and again especially since we have still not transported Pakistan’s sub-conventional war from our territory back into her territory. So the publicity campaign has in effect jeopardized future Special Forces operations. As to Army’s participation in publicizing ‘surgical strikes’, they obviously were directed to do so.

Why the Army acquiesced to such directions is something only the hierarchy can answer. But the bottom-line is that Pakistan is not bothered about human costs and though a failing state, China may skin them alive but will not let Pakistan sink, making it a vassal state in the process.

When first time Pakistan opened up artillery shelling in Kupwara Sector of J&K sometime in 1990, they used to shout across that Indians must seek Delhi’s permission before retaliating. And, by the time retaliation came, they were well entrenched under shelter. Things have changed since then. The present government says they have given a free hand to the security forces – but hey, isn’t that for “retaliation”? There is a big difference here. What we need to do is carry out periodic pro-active fire plans, taking the enemy completely by surprise.

We must take full advantage of superior firepower and pay him back in the same coin. The costs to Pakistan must be made prohibitive. If she uses missiles and rockets, so should we with greater caliber weaponry. Besides, why are we shy in activating other sectors when he is repeatedly violating the IB sector? If he is using artillery in direct firing role, why are we not doing so in the Siachen Sector where we are dominating him at so many places? Why should he not again taste the smell of cordite with our artillery directly engaging posts like Point 5353?

But all this is still short of what India needs to do; hasten Pakistan’s implosion in conjunction our strategic partners including Afghanistan unless Pakistan cools off the CFVs and proxy war. General Bipin Rawat has stated that we are ready to call Pakistan’s nuclear bluff, if tasked to do so. That is the correct approach but then India should be seriously thinking of waging continuous sub-conventional war on our adversaries. This will be the smarter way.  Pakistan suspects India is planning to attack installations of the China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC).

What Pakistan fails to realize is that the BRI is the entrails of China hanging out of its belly. In such situation, all types of insects and rodents from across the globe will automatically get attracted to the smell of blood. India really doesn’t need to undertake any direct attacks unless the Chinese go a begging.

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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

Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

is a former Lt Gen Special Forces, Indian Army

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