(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)
Reiterating the obvious, J & K crisis resolution is extraordinary complex. Early expectation of a mutually acceptable solution to all actors involved in the conflict is a mirage. An attempt is made to provide a balanced perspective.
Reiterating the obvious all over again is the myriad of actors involved. Not easy to reconcile divergent end objectives meeting their avowed self-interests.
It is academic fashion to invoke that the ongoing crisis is 71-years old. In reality it is a clash of civilizations and ideologies. So, an early crisis resolution is impossible expectation. After all, India failed to seize the opportunities due to appeasement policies, strategies in 1947-48, 1965, 1971 and Kargil.
Actors on Pakistan side alone include: Pakistan State (Nuclear Weapon State) with ultimate decision making resting in the Army and indulging in LoC and International cross border firings; ISI aiding and abetting the Taliban in Afghanistan, LeT, JeM, HuM, etc and sponsoring cross border terrorism; Islamic radicals or Islamists/hardliners.
For terrorist organizations – War means employment; peace means unemployment – it is not so easy to convince them to forge peace.
Having bread and fed so many terrorist ‘snakes’ in Pakistan backyard, it is not also easy to neutralize them. For example, Pakistan Taliban which is tormenting Pakistan State and Army in FATA region is a fine example.
China-Pak strategic alliance – China sees its South Asian, Central Asia, West Asia, African and IOR interests linked with Pakistan – lends support in international diplomatic forums, economic aid and military supplies.
USA playing “hot and cold” game to further its interests in Afghanistan as counter to Pakistan “dual role/duplicity). Also, Russia’s recent attempts to collude with Taliban in Afghanistan besides one time military assistance of armed helicopters to Pakistan.
Not to be forgotten is the near total radicalization of Pakistan armed forces. Their avowed end objective is to “Bleed India to total disintegration through 1000-years Jihad”.
Pakistan Army has mastered the art and science of sponsoring cross-border terrorism. Should it retract from the current situation, its image and credibility will suffer. Early breakthroughs by conducting talks with civilian leadership or through Track-II channels among civil society peaceniks are impossibility.
Without Pakistan Army and the ISI participation, besides a plethora of Islamist radicals, based on a clear agenda, peace talks will be “talks for the sake of talks only”.
Finally, China may not allow a peace breakthrough without its mandate determining peace outcomes.
Add to it, the entrenched Kashmir separatist lobby in the valley besides ongoing political and media warfare or cacophony that is hardening postures on all sides.
India too is caught in ‘trap’. India’s vital national interest is non-negotiable status of territorial inviolability and within the Constitution framework. Agenda setting with such a compulsion itself will be a difficult challenge to overcome.
Also, energy security and holistic economic growth is important national interest. Finally desirable interest to uphold human values, freedom and curtail transnational terrorism and crime.
India’s desired strategic end state is sustainable and enduring peace in South Asia and non-threatening Pakistan.
India’s opposition parties include the Congress Party and the Leftist parties besides the right wing hardliners. Instead of formulating and unifying on an agreed agenda, they are bitterly divided in opposite camps – Hardliners/Hawks vs. Soft liners/peaceniks.
They forget that lack of internal unity will be exploited to advantage by Pakistan and self destructive as a nation. And they claim to be ‘leaders” serving people, society and nation. It is the most heinous fraud committed them on the nation.
Hawks views must be tempered that going to “War’ is not an option. Militarily, there are quite a few strategies still available to exercise. Such a strategy more appropriately termed as “Graduated proactive escalation” by various means at their disposal and also with the State. Not reactive as it is being done as of now.
Clear message/warning is given to “Stone-pelters” that security forces would respond to their activity in ‘self defense’ under the laws of the land in full force.
Also, send a clear message that terrorists will be killed; but not apprehended any more cordon and search operations.
What about strikes on terrorist camps using surface to surface missiles besides armed drones?
Most important, launch proactive Tran’s international border artillery suppressive strikes opposite Sialkot-Gujarat sectors. After all, Pakistan is not respecting sanctity of international border opposite Akhnoor-Ranbir Singh Pura-and areas south of it particularly against civilian households.
Also, implement military strategy of demonstrations in Rajasthan and Punjab. Least it would do is relieve pressure on Pakistan Taliban in FATA and Baluch’s extremists.
Such a calculative and deliberate military riposte must impose unbearable costs on Pakistan – a replay of “bleeding Pakistan” until it backtracks from terrorist activity not only in J & K but also elsewhere in India.
Simultaneously, the grand political strategy that needs to be employed at the cost of repetition includes:
- conduct dynamic political/hybrid warfare employing all elements of soft power;
- cyber warfare;
- actively aid and abet Pakistan Taliban, Baluch’s separatists and other extremist elements with the end objective of balkanization of Pakistan- tit for tat;
- Imposition of Presidents Rule in J & K, relieve present Governor and replace with an astute former General;
- arrest and detain separatist leaders and sympathizers and keep them in detention cells in Andaman Islands thereby isolating them from people;
- withdraw MFN status and close all transit points that today facilitate terrorists inflows, war material and finances and so on;
- Parliament to pass a resolution declaring Pakistan as terrorist state as a precursor to sponsoring a resolution in the UN and other international agencies and so on.
In the given geopolitical complexity which is quite fluid, a soft or peace option cannot provide sustaining and enduring solution. Such an expectation can be viewed as “living in a Fool’s of Idiot’s Paradise”. Having seized the initiative in J & K, Pakistan will be emboldened to further expand its avowed aim of “1000-years Jihad” to disintegrate modern India.
In sum, political and military sagacity of a very order is the need of the hour. Both “Grand Strategy and Military Strategy” must be formulated on “Graduated Proactive Escalatory Strategy” basis combining all elements of national power to impose “unacceptable costs” on Pakistan in men, material and financial fields.