A few days ago the army was called out in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) for what the powers that be described as “deterrence”.
Either they don’t know what deterrence means or misunderstand the term. On Thursday, official statements said the army’s stay in J&K would be “short”.
We suggest that those who manage the army’s deployment read the 2005 economics Nobel Prize winner Thomas Schelling’s book The Strategy of Conflict.
Schelling says the key to effective deterrence is communication of one’s resolve to the enemy, may that be a country, an army or a stone-pelting crowd. By broadcasting the army’s “short stay”, the government killed the effect the deployment may have had. In any case, deterrence in a complex situation of the kind that prevails in J&K requires a well-thought-out mix of coercion and tact, something that eludes New Delhi.