|A Soldier's Diary||
Sunday, July 25, 1999
ONCE again Pakistan has committed aggression on India with manifest treachery. As a departure from the pattern of the past half a century, Pakistans latest venture has met with disapproval from most of its global mentors. Both USA and China have advised Pakistan to respect the Line of Control (LoC). Clinton told Nawaz Sharif during their recent meeting in Washington to withdraw its intruders from the Indian side of the LoC. It seems doubtful that Nawaz Sharif will be able to enforce his writ upon the hardliners in Pakistan and restore the LoC. Already some of his ministers and leaders of the fundamentalist lunatic fringe, are stridently promising many more "Kargils". After the recent meeting of the Directors Generalof military operations of both the countres, the reported withdrawal of Pakistani intruders has to be ascertained on the ground and further developments very carefully watched. Ever since the invasion of Kashmir in Oct 47 Pakistan has successfully used the same formula time and again commit blatantaggression and provoke a response from India; with the help of its mentors obfuscate the act of aggression by a well-mounted propaganda blitz; conjure up a facade of reasonableness by offering to discuss and negotiate measures for reducing tensions and prolong the unproductive dialogue till the current aggression recedes to a back burner and the next aggression is committed. It has managed to get away with these repeated acts of perfidy because we have refused to learn from our past experiences.
We are perceived as a soft state, unwilling to act firmly to defend and promote our vital national interests. Even when we took the bit into our teeth and carried the fight into Pakistan and/or Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, we lacked the politico-diplomatic killer instinct to enforce a more durable peace. The three wars we have successfully fought against Pakistan have ended on the same sorry note we lost the peace. Our weak-kneed response in dealing with the blatant aggression of a proxy war unleashed by Zia-ul-Haq on Kashmir in 1989 as merely a law and order problem within the state, was completely scandalous. We forgot the lessons of the previous three decades that the ruling elite in Pakistan are deterred from their military adventures only if we hit back and hurt their war machine. Pakistan, emboldened by our soft response, has been bleeding us white ever since. The present intrusion into Kargil has been an inevitable outcome of our reactive policies over the past decade.
We have failed to keep the perfidious nature of the Pak state into focus while fashioning the deployment of our much superior armed power as an effective instrument of the state policy. Pakistan was born in hatred. Its ruling elite hold the view that it has existed and can exist only by sustained hostility against India. Kashmir has been used to fan this animus. Does Pakistan really want Kashmir? On profound reflection, the answer is an emphatic "no". What Pakistan is concerned with is the "Kashmir issue" because that alone provides the raison de etre to its theme of hostility. If we understand this and keep it in focus, our policy thrust is crystal clear ensure the effective security of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. And our past experiences of dealing with the treacherous Pak state tell us that this can only be done by an aggressive offensive-defence; by carrying the fight into Pakistan and hitting it where it hurts most. This suggestion may invite the epithet of war-mongering, but has any alternative thrust served us better? The answer has been very evident over the past decade and has once again been forcefully brought home by the costly fighting forced upon us in the Kargil sector.
It is obvious that despite our well-established superiority in the realm of conventional forces in the plains and nuclear capability, including missile and aircraft-borne delivery system, we have failed to deter the Pakistan power elite. On the other hand, their stridently aggressive bravado-projects their belief that their nuclear capability has effectively checkmated our superiorities. Faced with an irrational Pak leadership, this obvious miscalculation may carry a nuclear risk, if we choose to employ our conventional superiority in the plains.
For our security we are concerned both with the here and now as well as the future. We need a national security shield which cannot be easily breached as has happened in the area of Kargil. Our immediate aim is to eject the intruders and restore the LoC, wherever it has been violated. Though our response was permeated with adhocism, the performance of our soldiers and their leaders who were rushed into battle has been magnificent. Despite fairly heavy casualties, especially amongst the younger leadership, the morale at the battle front is very high. The nation owes these indomitably brave men a debt of gratitude. The lost ground will be regained but it will be a hard slogging match with a high cost in men and material. While we must keep exploring avenues for a peaceful solution, there does appear to be no other choice on the ground except to fight on to regain what we had lost through our complacency and Pak treachery.
For our future security we must address ourselves to the projection of our policy as well as our preparedness on the ground. Only when we achieve an infallible credibility in both these spheres would be able to deter the Pak establishment from their "Kargils".
In formulating our national policy, we have to escape from our reactive mode and erase the impression in the minds of the Pak establishment that we are a soft state. As a first step to back up our resolves with convincing credibility, our national policy and decision-making infrastructure must be decisive. In my military command at various levels, it was always forcefully apparent that if the decision-making; channels for dissemination of intentions and orders; the provision of resources for the task at hand and supervision of execution were convincing, the assigned goals are achieved. The basic principles in the higher management of national security are similar and can differ only in format and emphasis. At present our national policy formulation and the creation and integration of deterrent armed power in the state policy, is most unconvincing as far as the Pak establishment is concerned. Even in the vital sphere of the nuclear deterrence, we have not created a visibly convincing infrastructure that our second strike capability will almost annihilate Pakistan should it resort to a nuclear weapon. It is time we take a hard look and craft a structure that visibly projects our resolves to ensure our security against any form of actual or perceived threat. It was another of my experiences that if the command structure was tight and dynamic, many of the other infirmities in the organisation could be overcome.
In the human psyche, a threat becomes convincing only if the person at the receiving end of it is convinced that you have the means to translate it into a reality and, what, is even more important, that you have the will and the guts to do so. The arena where we will be require to prove this dictum in the foreseeable future is Jammu and Kashmir. While we have an undeniable conventional subperiority in the plains, which we can actually unleash at a sustantial cost of global disapproval, we have undeniably failed to make a similar projection in Kashmir. Moreover, if we confined our demonstration of superior power to Jammu and Kashmir, a nuclear threat is highly unlikely to materialise. We urgently need to fashion a Kashmir-specific superior armed power backed by a well-demonstrated will to use it to ensure the security of this part of the country.
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