It is from the greatest dangers that the greatest glory is to be won – Thucydides
It is a tired ideology to fight unjust war with just means. This strategy sooner or later is destined to ricochet. The enemy is amorphous; unstructured in profile but organised in actions and have been employing ‘strategy of polarity’ where adversary engages on social, political, cultural and military domain to great effect. The army cannot fight effectively unless they can identify the real enemies.
Success of Pakistan strategy of inner uprising is working because it has controlled the public space through radicalisation and coercion.
The ground situation in Kashmir is fragile and finding solution through security forces may not yield results. The Pakistan has not forgotten the embarrassment it faced at home and abroad after the surgical strikes. The Pakistan army was taken by surprise and the summer offers them an opportunity to get even.
The situation in Kashmir is grim and security forces are fighting armed and unarmed Jihadi under critical view of moralistic brigade. The strategy of Pakistan is clear, don’t let the Indian Army conduct operations and that allows the terrorists to increase ranks and control public and private space. Success of Pakistan strategy of inner uprising is working because it has controlled the public space through radicalisation and coercion. The strategy is simple radicalise youth and women and coerce those who cannot see the futility of this madness.
So far operations were being coordinated from across the LOC by the ISI but it is likely that ISI command centre may move into Kashmir if already not operative to establish firm control over the situation in Kashmir. The strategy of bypassing the frontiers to fight within has yielded results for Pakistan and mixing it with asymmetric capabilities will make it more volatile. The Pakistan has employed the strategy of polarity to engage state and security forces on multi fronts.
The irony is that Indian response is kneejerk reaction to a critical social and political issue and at this juncture situation cannot be stabilised through security forces. The CAPF at this phase of instability need strong leadership to handle the complex situation with resolve and maturity.
So far the CAPF have not been provided with an alternative weapon for crowd control after the use of pellet guns was banned. It leaves them with little choice…
The focus of hybrid and asymmetric warfare of Pakistan is to “bypass the frontiers” to fight within Kashmir and India says Lt Gen Anil Chait, former Chief of Integrated Defence Staff. This summer will unfold the full potential of investment of Pakistan in hybrid war in Kashmir. The strategy will be to destabilise Kashmir by forcing collapse of government institutions, prevent army from conducting effective CI/CT operations and provide an agenda to moralistic brigades in Delhi to demoralise the security forces from fighting unjust war in an innovative manner. So far the CAPF have not been provided with an alternative weapon for crowd control after the use of pellet guns was banned. It leaves them with little choice and is forced to either remain passive or if situation gets out of control in that case they are compelled to use rifles.
The JKP has so far done a remarkable job but increasing attacks on their families and coercion by way of threats is having serious impact on their morale. There is need to give incentive to JKP personals on the same line as CAPF to maintain the motivation. The government should also be prepared to provide family accommodation in secure areas to those who have been threatened by terrorists and separatists.
Before we discuss the strategy likely to be employed by Pakistan and radicals, it is important to to identify the adversaries:-
• Armed Adversaries.
- Terrorists from LeT, Hijbul Mujahedeen, IS and Al Qaeda (The platform is ready for induction of IS and Al Qaeda if not already operating).
- Member of Pakistan Special Forces to plan and execute special operations..
- Members of regular forces to provide leadership, coordinate actions of all tanzeems and training.
(All of them will operate in the garb of so called local resistance force)
The Pakistan Army would attempt to exploit instability in Kashmir to cause disruption and may impact conventional war fighting capabilities as well.
• Unarmed Adversaries.
- ISI sleuths’ to organise strategies to sustain inner uprising.
- Radicals to mobilise youths.
- Unarmed Jihadi/ stone pelters under the supervision of armed cadres.
- Murderous crowd among the Kashmiri Awam to fight on street as part of disruptive strategy.
- IW and cyber warriors.
- Moral brigade in Srinagar, Delhi and rest of the country to mobilise public opinion against security forces and government institutions.
Previous attempts of Pakistan in 1947-48, 1965 and Kargil failed because the ground was not ready and people were not supportive. Presence of Mujahids in Kashmir cannot be ruled out, footprints of Special Forces and regulars of Pakistan have yet not emerged and if they become active during this summer it will be extremely difficult for the Indian Army to identify and eliminate them. Remember Pakistan will not forget the humiliation they faced and Special Forces may take this opportunity to strike back in the hinterland in Kashmir and if they taste success in one many more will follow. The Pakistan Army would attempt to exploit instability in Kashmir to cause disruption and may impact conventional war fighting capabilities as well.
Prepare To Fight Hybrid War With Hybrid Capabilities.
The security forces are finding it extremely difficult to deal with unarmed Jihadi often led by unruly crowd. The crowd appears to be unorganised but as per my understanding there are sure to be armed terrorists among the groups in close vicinity to monitor the stone pelting. They keep a watch over the youth and award and reward them instantaneously based on their enthusiasm to lead the charge against security forces. Those who stand in front and charge at the security forces are paid higher amount than those who stay behind and be part of the group. Report card is initiated and this is how public control system is enforced. (This was revealed to the author by one of the youth confessing that they were between the deep sea and the devil and have been now overtaken by fury of madness).
Time has come for intelligence agencies to train and employ special groups on the lines of Special Activity Division of CIA to target the high profile terror leaders and ISI modules in Kashmir, POK and rest of the country.
Fighting irregulars with regulars may not be a sound strategy and need review. Can such a war be fought by security forces? Who should fight the faceless enemy? It should be faceless soldiers and irregulars from within the populace that can be employed successfully to defeat the strategy of Pakistan. Who can control and train irregulars? Certainly not the security forces but the intelligence agencies and covert groups. They should not only be tasked to eliminate the armed Jihadi by use of sophisticated systems (those need not be elaborated on paper) but also manipulate the perception of people by exposing the radicals and separatists. Time has come for intelligence agencies to train and employ special groups on the lines of Special Activity Division of CIA to target the high profile terror leaders and ISI modules in Kashmir, POK and rest of the country.
Insertion of Special Forces / Ghataks of Army/ Rashtriya Rifles by helicopters during day and night to carry out swift actions to eliminate terrorists and exit by helicopter to prevent being involved in fighting through aggressive and unruly crowd (Rapid induction rapid actions and rapid exit is required for precise and surgical operations). This strategy will be vital to deal with Pakistan Special Forces units/ irregulars as and when they start operating incognito in the Valley.
Army units and Rashtriya Rifles should not allow the public to close in with the forces at any time. CRPF personnel’ were heckled because they allowed the crowd to come closer. Had they stuck together and warned the crowd they would have prevented embarrassment to the force (restrain was compulsion in the absence of a clear idea how to deal with such a situation). Similarly contingency plans should be put in place to maintain strategic lines of communication under public disruption even if it means use of force.
Population of India has never been so unanimous in supporting just and unjust means to fight adversaries in Kashmir (except few apologists).
Hybrid war in Kashmir is not restricted to land forces only, it has become war by Pakistan against India and every tool at the disposal of the government must be applied. There is a need for accountability and credible operations by intelligence agencies to bring plotters and instigators to book. They should no more act as liaison office of the government of India in Srinagar, rather such a situation is playground for invisible boys (intelligence agencies) to manoeuvre to break the strategy of Pakistan.
How to Dissuade Pakistan to Conduct Hybrid War?
The army needs to work out complementary options to counter and deter hybrid asymmetric threats being practiced by Pakistan and non-state adversaries.
Population of India has never been so unanimous in supporting just and unjust means to fight adversaries in Kashmir (except few apologists). There may be a large section within India and establishment that may incline to support the other side or adopt unprecedented restrain but such ideas are now irrelevant in the emerging scenario. The choice is to allow Kashmir to remain instable for protracted period or defeat the separatists forever. The Indian Army can overmatch practice of hybrid war and achieve escalation dominance over Pakistan provided political leadership is in the grip of emerging contours of conflict. It is up to the Army to explain the emerging ground situation to the government because as an institution they have greater knowledge of the ground situation and the escalation that may take place in near future.
The Indian state has been fighting on home turf whereas; Pakistan is fighting forward bypassing frontiers. Why should India not bypass frontiers and fight the Kashmir war in POK and Baluchistan? One needs to ponder over such a strategy.
Never before in the history judiciary has ever laid down how the soldiers should fight the nation’s war. The government needs to explain to the judiciary that extraordinary situation demands extraordinary steps…
This summer will lay down the contours where the conflict in Kashmir is heading. A nation and its citizen must remember that to prevent collapse of a state and its institutions, it is essential to curb even private space when subversion among the masses becomes unmanageable. Pakistan should look at carefully whether it will serve the purpose to fight the Peloponnesian War, resulting in a continuation of the war for another 30 years. No one will remain unhurt and Pakistan will be bigger loser in this war.
India needs to legislate at priority that soldiers operating in war like situation cannot be made to stand on judicial trial. Never before in the history judiciary has ever laid down how the soldiers should fight the nation’s war. The government needs to explain to the judiciary that extraordinary situation demands extraordinary steps, choice of strategy and tactics in an unjust undeclared war should be the prerogative of the field commanders and they should be able to justify their actions in the interest of the nation and their command.
There is a need for the Army to explain the ground situation to the government and seriousness required to prepare for the worst. Those who understand the potential and signatures of hybrid war emanating from Kashmir are worried and India cannot fight an unjust war by just means. India will have to fight forward and with vigour to come out of “Kashmir Trap” laid by Pakistan. There is a need for all stakeholders to come together to make an endeavour to stabilise the ground situation so that a process of normalisation can be put in place.
- Douglas Lovelace, Terrorism Commentary on Security Documents Volume 141, Hybrid warfare and grey zone threat, Oxford Press, 2016 edition, P 170.
- Ibid, P 170.
- Leon Whyte, The Real Thucydides’ Trap, The Diplomat,May 06, 2015n