The killing of two Indian soldiers and subsequent mutilating of their bodies on the Line of Control (LoC) on May 1st, 2017, reportedly by a combined team of Pakistani soldiers and terrorists, would have left many Indians wondering about the reasons for such continuing unsoldierly and dishonourable acts by a regular Army.Simply put, whenever there has been any indication of overtures between India and Pakistan at the political level, it has immediately resulted in Pakistani Army led efforts to disrupt the process, howsoever heinous the means – whether a Kargil war, a Pathankot attack or this latest act of mutilation.
In actual fact, if one were to go into the history of the Pakistani Army, it would be logical to conclude that there is nothing surprising about such acts, given its tainted DNA. Starting from the perfidious launch of Operation Gulmarg in October 1947, just two months after its birth, and subsequent unsuccessful launch of Operation Gibralter in 1965, the first twenty years of the Pakistan Army were marked purely by efforts to grab Kashmir by deceit and treachery. Thereafter, after a quarter century lull due to generally having lost its status as a frontline state in the West’s anti-Communism crusade, the Pakistani Army reverted to its natural inclinations only in the 1980s through the launch of ‘Operation Tupac’ against India, once its ‘frontline state’ status was restored, consequent to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 resulted in the CIA orchestrating a sub-conventional campaign in the form of a global Islamist ‘jihad’ (holy war)to defeat the Soviet military, by utilizing Muslim youth from all over the world. CIA and Saudi funds were used generously to provide weapons, training and logistics to the ‘mujahedeen fighters’ through the Pakistan Army and its intelligence wing, the ISI. The expertise and weaponry, gained while running the largely successful campaign in Afghanistan to oust the Soviet forces, provided the opportunity to Pakistan’s Army and its generals to divert these subsequently to the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). Thus, in the mid 1980s, was born ‘Operation Tupac’, conceived and planned under Pakistani President, General Zia-ul-Haq, to not only grab the Muslim majority areas of J&K, India’s northernmost state, but also to progressively cause the “disintegration of India.” Incidentally, Gen Zia-ul-Haq was killed in 1988, the same year that Operation Tupac was activated, by a mysterious explosion in a military aircraft in which he was travelling in Pakistan along with senior American officials.
Pakistan Army’s ‘Operation Tupac’ derives its name from Tupac Amaru II, a Peruvian revolutionary, who, in the 18th century, had led the war of liberation against Spanish rule in Peru. The plan was essentially meant to take revenge against India for its role in ‘dismembering’ Pakistan’s eastern wing (now Bangladesh) in 1971, following the genocide of Pakistan’s Bengali people at the hands of the Pakistani Army during that year. ‘Operation Tupac’, undertaken by the Pakistan Army and its ISI, involved diverting the Afghan ‘global mujahedeen’ to J&K, training disaffected Kashmiri youth in ISI training camps close to the LoC, raising and running a number of India -centric militant organizations like Hizb-ul-Mujahedeen, Hizb-ul-Islam, Allah Tigers, Al-Umar Mujahedeen, Harkat-ul-Ansar and Jamaat Hurriyat Conference, instigating and directing an insurgency in J&K, and undertaking terrorist acts in the state and the rest of India. Concurrently, the ISI was employed pro-actively to train and fund Khalistani terrorists to run the Sikh militancy in Indian Punjab. Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e Mohammed were subsequent creations of the ISI. Not surprisingly, ‘Operation Tupac’ is an ongoing operation, and continues to this day. Thus, it gives the lie to the Pakistani Army’s denials of involvement in instigating militancy in J&K and terror acts all over India. Subsequently, since the first decade of this century, the Pakistani Army has used its ill-gained expertise to extend these attacks into Afghanistan by directing and supporting the Taliban, ever since the latter was ousted from power in Afghanistan in 2001.
Unfortunately, many in the world community, including developed countries, have shown willingness to ignore Pakistan’s active involvement in terrorist acts, either due to geo-strategic compulsions or due to the Pakistani Army’s ever increasing partnership role in Muslim countries, especially through the Sunni alliance, mentored by Saudi Arabia. The message on the wall is very clear – India cannot depend on any country in the global community to deal effectively with the terrorism policy of Pakistan and its diabolical Army. It will need to deal with the problem itself.
So, what does India need to do? First and foremost, India needs to actualize the long pending proposal for formation of a tri-Services ‘Special Forces (SF) Command.’ This would involve raising a Command Headquarters of some 350 – 400 personnel (including its integral security) under a three star General and placing at least three of the Indian Army’s Special Forces’ battalions and approximately 150 Garuds from the air force and 100 Marcos from the Navy under its command. Possibly, the Headquarters should be raised within the military’s existing manpower resources and could be located at Jammu. They must be provided dedicated/ integral resources for transportation, especially Mi-17 V5 helicopters. The SF Command must be primarily tasked to deal with sub-conventional operations during peace time. Its role in support of the military during war should be its secondary role. Raising of the Command will give a powerful message of deterrence to the Pakistani ‘deep state’. It will also plug a crucial gap in India’s security paradigm. It is indeed quite shocking and unpardonable that India has yet not taken this very simple but effective means so far for dealing with terrorism and other hostile acts from across the border.
Secondly, India must formalize a range of options for dealing with each security contingency that crops up in the India-Pakistan context. Each option must have a variety of means – political, military, economic, diplomatic and informational – to be activated each time, to achieve the desired effect in a concerted, coordinated and time bound manner.
Thirdly, foolproof physical security must be provided on priority to all defence installations, especially those in J&K and other areas closer to the border. This would include provision of 12 feet high security walls, topped by electronic fences, and backed by internal security belts, covered by ‘round the clock’ monitoring by multiple means – electronic (intrusion detection systems), physical (tower sentries with NVDs), visual (cameras and lights) and access control (turnstiles, biometrics etc) – backed by speedy response mechanisms(quick reaction teams).These measures must be provided speedily at every installation and must be subjected to regular rehearsals and audit.
Fourthly, the line of control and international border with Pakistan needs to be sealed effectively. Electronic means, backed by physical surveillance and patrolling, including employment of guard dogs, must be used to optimal effect. The area between the border and military units needs to be dominated by patrols, ambushes and check points, for which, there should be close coordination between the Army, BSF, civil police and intelligence agencies.
Fifthly, the military and other security agencies operating in J&K must not present any vulnerabilities while moving from one place to another by foot or on vehicles. SOPs must be strictly followed for ‘road opening,’ provision of escorts, actions of quick reaction teams and for unpredictability of timings.‘
Sixthly, the ongoing unrest in Kashmir needs to be resolved on priority. The situation calls for a political solution, within the Indian Constitution, with long term effects. The Indian state, with all the political skills and experience under its control, cannot be seen to be without plausible options despite so many months that have passed.
And, last but not the least, India must, imaginatively and concertedly, employ its comprehensive national power, especially the rich political and diplomatic capital that it enjoys, to make Pakistan formally scrap ‘Operation Tupac,’ failing which, it must be willing to turn the screws by all means at its disposal, even to the extent of withdrawing from the Indus Water Treaty. It appears India would not be left with any other option.