Retaliatory strike just a short-term measure : The Tribune India

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Retaliatory strike just a short-term measure

THE Balakot air strike might have soothed frayed tempers in India, but it has also shown that Pakistan is a clear and present danger to India’s national security.

Retaliatory strike just a short-term measure

Harsh reality: There is no peace for India as long as the present political and military structure continues in Pakistan.



Anand Kumar
Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses

THE Balakot air strike might have soothed frayed tempers in India, but it has also shown that Pakistan is a clear and present danger to India’s national security. ‘Surgical’ strikes are only a temporary solution to the long-standing problem of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.

Pakistan has been hostile to India since its creation and it has already fought three full-fledged wars with India, two of which were over the Kashmir issue. It was decisively defeated in the 1971 war, which gave birth to Bangladesh. The dynamics of India-Pakistan ties changed in the late 1990s after both countries went overtly nuclear. It was assumed that an open battle would not take place between them.

Pakistan has, however, found a way around this nuclear deterrent. It is using jihadi terrorism to wage a proxy war against India. This instrument of State policy has given it an opportunity to keep the pot boiling in Kashmir and raise it at national and international fora. To meet this challenge, India has gone in for massive deployment of security forces in Kashmir at a huge cost.

It is nearly impossible to prevent every terror attack in the country, especially when a terror factory is running in our neighbourhood with the objective of harming India. To eliminate terror, we have to strike at the root of terror. 

The overt nuclearisation in South Asia is constraining India from penalising Pakistan for its nefarious deeds. Some suggest that instead of taking action against Pakistan, India should focus on its economic development and take Pakistan-sponsored jihadi terrorism in its stride. However, such terrorism is causing increasing number of casualties of civilians and security forces. If India ignores such attacks, it would affect the morale of the people and the security forces. Besides, it would give a fillip to Pakistan-supported insurgency in J&K.

Pakistan’s hostility towards India is not limited to Jammu and Kashmir; for its army, the defeat in the 1971 war still rankles. The rise of India as an emerging global power is also disliked by Pakistan for geo-political reasons. 

India needs to develop a proactive Pakistan policy. Its ad hoc and reactive policy would endanger its own security and prosperity. The international community can at best sympathise with India after Pakistan-sponsored terror attacks. Only India has to find a solution to this long-standing problem.

It is often argued that India cannot act like the US as the power asymmetry between India and Pakistan is not that great. But then should India go on facing these terror strikes until it becomes militarily as powerful as the US? The obvious answer is no. There is no peace for India with Pakistan as it exists today. Kashmir is just a smokescreen for the larger Pakistani agenda to harm India. Its main policy is to bleed India with a thousand cuts.

If this is so, then what is India’s Pakistan policy. Or do we have a policy for Pakistan at all? Border firings or ‘surgical’ strikes cannot be an answer to Pakistan’s incessant flow of terrorists into India. We can’t let Pakistan hold our security and prosperity hostage to its nefarious acts. 

The peace overtures by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan don’t mean much. He is a known Taliban supporter. India was right in rejecting his offers for talks, given his radical Islamist credentials. Besides, he has been foisted by the army to carry out its designs.

The Pulwama terror attack has highlighted the grave security situation prevailing in South Asia, where a number of Islamist terror organisations are running riot with the support of the rogue State. This situation has worsened due to the US decision to withdraw troops from Pakistan. This has boosted the morale of the Taliban and other Islamist terror groups.

Pakistan has largely emerged unharmed from the US war on terror despite having a close alliance with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Under threat from then President George Bush, it pretended to have changed sides, but in reality remained closely allied with these groups. This strategy helped Pakistan avoid the wrath of the US. Moreover, Pakistan also managed to extract military aid from America in the name of helping it in the war. By the time the US saw through the double game, fatigue had already set in and its leaders started talking of withdrawal.

Unfortunately, there is no similar escape for India as it shares its border with Pakistan. India must realise that there is no peace for this country as long as the present political and military structure continues in Pakistan. In the present set-up, the Pakistan military calls the shots and India is their avowed enemy. India must review its Pakistan policy. The creation of Bangladesh in 1971 changed the dynamics of bilateral ties. Only a similar development has the potential of changing the existing power structure within Pakistan. This would dent Pakistan’s nuclear parity with India to a great extent and make its policy of strategic depth in Afghanistan less desirable. Only that can ensure long-term peace for India.

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