(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)
“Peaceniks” are irrelevant in today’s hawkish geopolitical and strategic environment.
Pakistan, rogue state, epi-center and state sponsor of terrorism, is at it all over again by launching yet another terror strike by JeM at the “Nagrota Corps Headquarters Garrison” making it the deadliest attack after the Uri terror strike in September 2016.
At the same time, Basit, suave Pakistani ambassador, offered unconditional talks, which is quite shrewd. By offering reconciliation, he has attempted to shift the responsibility of heightened tension in South Asia thereby neutralizing India’s diplomatic initiative to isolate it.
Pakistan nurtures visceral hatred towards India. Its end objective is to “seek and take revenge” on two counts. One, deep inside their hearts and minds is the loss of the Muslim Empires in India to the British due to Hindu betrayal. After all, they ruled India for over six centuries. Two, the humiliating defeat in 1971 war compounded and consolidated the grievous hurt of losing West Pakistan, present Bangladesh, consolidated and deepened hatred towards secular India.
Pakistan avowed policy is to liberate J & K through 1000-year Jihad and “bleed India through thousand cuts” by proxy war transformed now as “Hybrid War”.
Pakistan’s Islamic radical ideologues strategic vision is simple. Today, their end goal is liberation of Kashmir. If successful, they will be emboldened to attempt liberation of West Bengal and Assam in collaboration with Islamic radicals in Bangladesh in a midterm context.
Thereafter, it could be liberation of Lakshadweep and Minicoy islands followed by Kerala. And, there will be no end until they regain, establish, consolidate and advance the Sunni Islamic Muslim Caliphate in South Asia with largest Muslim population. After all, there is convergence of end goals of the ISIS and the al Qaeda with Pakistan’s.
Let me also highlight that Pakistan cannot be diplomatically isolated until China retracts from its time tested strategic alliance to checkmate India; and also the Islamic nations continue to support Pakistan. The current geo politics favors Pakistan in short term context. So, why should Pakistan forego the opportunity to exploit it to achieve its long term strategic goals and ends?
With China extending unqualified support – diplomatic, military, economic and technology – to Pakistan to “bleed India through terror” to keep its arch rival at bay and USAs strategic compulsion to aid Pakistan to safeguard its interests in Afghanistan, Pakistan will continue to wage “Hybrid War” against India. Even Trump is cozying to Pakistan as per media reports by offering help to resolve its problems.
Viewed in a holistic context, the clash of civilizations is real – Islamic vs. Kafirs in South Asia. Let the so called ‘peaceniks’ suffer from no illusions on the above count at least in a short term context.
Next, it is important to note that assumptions or hypotheses governing various strategic scenarios play a critical role in the identification and achievement of strategic end goals. Then only, one can develop a balanced strategic perspective so vital to ensure strategic equilibrium that is vital for growth and development of a nation.
“Peace talks” with the gun pointing at the “Head”, that is, J & K, does not reflect “peace yearning”. Repeatedly, Pakistani officials have been highlighting that the uprising within J & K will eventually liberate Kashmiri Muslims from the Indian “Yoke”. Fools can only nurture such false expectations.
The demand of “Peaceniks” – Abdullah dynasty, separatists, Congress Party cronies besides Left and other opposition parties – for peace talks with Pakistan, that too, unconditional, mercilessly exposes intellectual bankruptcy of its advocates.
Having failed dismally in promoting “Peace” during nearly 60 years rule, the Abdullah dynasty, Congress Party and its crony allies must stop the nonsense that they are advocating only to fool people.
In retrospect, Indian “Peaceniks” are living in a ‘fool’s paradise’. Their thinking, perhaps, may be colored by the romantic theme “Today’s enemies can be tomorrow’s friends; today’s friends may be tomorrows enemies.” And, the famous “Track II Channel Group” will certainly attempt with all their might the need for continuation of backdoor engagement. After all, they too want to be relevant.
Idealistic propositions are illusions in today’s dynamic and exciting world particularly in dealings with Pakistan which has historically inherited super alter ego imbibed by religion five times in a day.
Thus, realism must govern nation’s foreign, defense and economic policies; but not romantic idealism based on misplaced assumptions of hypotheses.
Viewed in the above framework, strategic community (diplomats and former armed forces officers) are of late expressing divergent views varying between “Engagement or peace talks” with Pakistan and “Covert Action” as retribution after every terror strike in India. Never late than never!
Mercifully, “Hawks” are on muted or subdued mode. They are not shouting hoarse on going to war. War between two nuclear weapon states is a monstrous proposition for it is nothing but exercise in mutual suicide. A limited war ending in inconclusive stalemate at the end of war serves no purpose.
Few strategic analysts believe that the timing of the Nagrota attack is intended to deliberately sabotage any chance of dialogue between India and Pakistan. Even in the past in January 2016, terrorists attacked the Pathankot air force base just one week after Modi made a surprise visit to Pakistan, the first by an Indian prime minister in 12 years.
There are others who believe that it was a parting shot by the outgoing Pakistan Army Chief that also underlies the ‘hawkish’ character of the new Army Chief.
Hardly anyone is highlighting that with the onset of winter and snows covering Pir Panjal mountain ranges, infiltration activities and terror activities shift to South in the Pathankot-Samba-Jammu –Sunderbani-Nowshera-Rajouri-Mendhar-Poonch regions across the international border and the LoC. Thus, it is quite common to step up higher levels of surveillance and monitoring activities.
Understand they must all, diplomacy or use of “Soft Power” in tandem with use of military or “Hard Power” is a highly complex exercise in today’s dynamic and exciting world what with unpredictable Trump elected as the President of the sole super power today.
None can deny that nuanced understanding of geo politics instead of black and white view must govern shifting or alternating strategic postures to correspond to situational content and content.
Be that as it may, immediately after the Uri Terror episode, a holistic solution covering diplomatic, defense, economic and technology options and choices were elaborated for someone to take note and implement.
Most importantly, the choice of downsizing diplomatic missions on both sides and freezing of transit and trade facilities was suggested; but of no avail. Thankfully today, New Delhi’s strategic community is vociferously advocating hard strategic options on social, diplomatic and economic fronts.
India’s official stand unequivocally expressed in the Parliament is “Terror and Talks cannot go together.” Always remember, enduring and sustainable peace is a mirage in South Asian environment.
In short term context, hard strategic choices should be India’s preferred options. However, they may or may not necessarily promote, consolidate and advance mid and long term strategic goals.
Modi led NDA government lost an opportunity to seize to snap diplomatic ties with Pakistan after the Uri Terror Strike. Instead, “surgical strike” option was exercised to teach Pakistan a lesson.
At least now, India must cold shoulder and snub Sartaz Aziz, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, during his visit to Amritsar to attend the “Heart of Asia” conference. Like Pakistan snubbed Rajnath Singh during his visit to Pakistan, a similar response should be extended to him.
So what? Wake up India! Be prepared to face the worst contingency. Always remember that “Power respects Power”. No place for weak-kneed actors and nations in a “Hawkish World” as mankind’s history abundantly confirms.
Unfortunately, due to romantic idealism of the UPA government, India has not created a “covert capability” exploiting the opportunities available within Pakistan. Its ideologues were infatuated with the theme “stable and democratic Pakistan” is in the best interests of India.
Even Modi suffered from such an illusion in the early stages of his tenure as PM forgetting the lessons of South Asian history. The “Pathankot and Uri Terror Strikes’ forced him to realize his error in thinking thereby retracting from “peace talks” with Pakistan.
“Hit Pakistan Hard” is good jingoistic rhetoric for paper tigers or arm chair strategists. Where, when and How; and in which field to hit them hard is the real challenge. Give free hand to the armed forces to take retribution by means and ways in time and place of their choosing.
Meanwhile, act fast and smart in other fields – social, diplomatic, economic and technology fields. Hit Pakistan hard where it hurts them most. Diplomatic isolation has no meaning. First, downsize diplomatic missions and ban all transit and trade facilities. Act and stop outflows of water into Pakistan in the three rivers under the Indus Waters Treaty by diverting all excess water at the Madhopur, Harike, unpredictable Trump elected as the President of the sole super power today.
Most thoughtless is the idea of allowing the separatist leaders to move freely around in Srinagar and the valley whilst expecting the army to “Hit back Hard”.
My last appeal to the Congress Party leaders is simple. Please stop the nonsense of preaching idealistic solutions having been primarily responsible for the creation and eruption of the current mess in J & K – Nehru, Indiran Ghandy and Maunmohan Singh being squarely responsible along with the Abdullah dynasty and Karni Singh.
Stand unitedly and declare Pakistan as a “Terror State”. Take steps to get the UN to do the same.
In sum, be prepared for the long haul of Islamist terror burden; or perish.