Let’s face it. Pakistan’s scored over us comprehensively. In terms of executing a “death by a thousand cuts” strategy, it’s done well in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and now at will, anywhere in India. More worryingly, it’s now exploiting American insecurities in Afghanistan. The assorted generals and politicians in Islamabad are now saying that if India “reacts”, they will be forced to remove troops from the volatile, Islamist terror-infested western border to the eastern border.
This is a time of anguish in India. A large number of citizens want “action” against Pakistan. But any action must be well thought out in terms of its goals, efficacy and consequences. The overarching goal must be punitive action, one that will deter Pakistan from interfering in India. Pakistan itself provides an answer.Three actions, when coordinated, could form the core of India’s strategic response to Islamabad.
Pakistan has been responsible for insurgency in India, first in Punjab and then, after 1987, in J&K. Now, it has changed tack and injected chaos into many parts of India.
The question to be asked is why India cannot replicate the same strategy in Pakistan. If India has its problems, Pakistan too has its set of restive provinces. Baluch insurgency is well known and so is Sindhi separatism. India need not send any terrorists to Pakistan, it just has to provide “moral support”, support of the kind that Islamabad gives to Kashmiri militants.
Illustration: Jayachandran / Mint
Also, India should commit troops to Afghanistan. At the moment, Nato countries don’t want to send troops anywhere outside Kabul. India can make use of this window of opportunity and commit troops to locations of its choice. These should be Kandahar and Zabol, the districts contiguous to Baluchistan. Here it is critical that there be a very tight fit between our political and military objectives. The political objective is clear, the military objective can be tailored to it. There should be no stinginess in devoting resources, for this task as India’s long-term security may depend on it.
Finally, there should be strikes on terror camps in Pakistan. There are small towns, such as Muridke and Balakot, that are basically run by terrorists. These can be bombed. This would deter Pakistan to an extent.
Pakistan knows that it can meet this fate. There is a certain map that shows it to be a thin sliver of territory after Baluchistan has become an independent state. The map also shows a large swathe of its north-western region being incorporated into a “greater Afghanistan”. It’s time to tell Islamabad that such a map can be for real.
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