Wanted: A Counter Proxy War Doctrine
In the absence of a meaningful and effective response from our side, it is India, which has been bleeding at the hands of this Army of Islam, with the Pakistan Army remaining untouched. Unless and until the Pakistan Army is made to realise that a proxy war is a game which two can play and that India can play it more effectively and conclusively than Pakistan, there is going to be no respite from the ravages of this war.
Till now, we have been restricting ourselves to the conventional counter-terrorism strategy based on the principle of passive defence in our, own territory in response to Pakistan’s proxy war. This strategy has not brought this war to an end and is unlikely to do so. We have to adopt a counter proxy war strategy based on the principle of active defence through a mix of overt and covert actions.
Nations, which become incapable of feeling a sense of indignation and anger when attacked and let their will and readiness to retaliate, when warranted by circumstances, be weakened by misplaced forbearance, invite greater aggression. Perceived over-anxiety for peace with a State-sponsor of terrorism does not lead to peace. It leads to only more violence and more suffering for innocent people.
In the absence of a meaningful and effective response from our side, it is India, which has been bleeding at the hands of this Army of Islam, with the Pakistan Army remaining untouched.
What we are facing in Kashmir today is not indigenous terrorism, but undeclared incremental invasion from across the border. Kashmir is only a pretext and a bilaterally negotiated settlement of the differences is unlikely to lead to an end to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.
Pakistan looks upon terrorism as a political tool to frustrate India’s aspirations of emerging as a major regional power, as an equaliser to neutralise the quantitative and qualitative superiority of the Indian armed forces over their Pakistani counterparts, and as a para-military weapon to keep the Indian Army bleeding and preoccupied with internal security duties, in the hope that this would ultimately contribute to the over-all weakening and break-up of India.
The policy of active defence is based on a recognition of the need not only to deny success to the State-sponsor, but also to hurt and continue hurting the State-sponsor politically, economically, para-militarily and militarily till it abandons its sponsorship. Political and diplomatic options work, only if they are backed by the threat of para-military and military retaliatory options, if the former fail.
India’s policy till now has been to rely essentially on the political and diplomatic options. It needs to be examined whether the time has come for bringing the para-military and military options into our counter-terrorism tactical repertoire and, if so, whether this should be through a formal declaration of our intention to exercise these options in future or whether the options should be exercised covertly and non-conventionally without an overt declaration of a change of policy.
What we are facing in Kashmir today is not indigenous terrorism, but undeclared incremental invasion from across the border.
The USA and Israel follow a policy of an overtly declared retaliatory determination depending on the circumstances. They can afford to do so because none of the State-sponsors, confronting them, is a nuclear power and, even in respect of conventional military strength, there is a large asymmetry in their favour. They can, therefore, ensure that the exercise of the para-military and military retaliatory options does not lead to an uncontrollable military escalation.