India has failed in sending a bold and assertive message to Pakistan in the wake of the 'War of Terror' inflicted by the Pakistani military establishment culminating in Mumbai 9/11 on November 26, 2008. All that the Indian Government has done in the month past that date, when India's National Honor was besmirched by Pakistani terrorists trained by the Pakistani Special Forces, is a diplomatic offensive and presenting a dossier of clinching evidence to the major countries. India should have resorted at the first instance to air strikes and cruise missile strikes against Pakistani terrorist locations. Of course there would have been Pakistani retaliation, expectedly. Should India as a regional power and aspiring global power using her prerogatives of power against Pakistani terrorist aggression buckle down in fear of consequent military retaliation by Pakistan?
Are India's political leaders condemned to repeat history? Could the present Congress Government not have learnt from the mistakes of the BJP Government committed in the wake of the Pakistani sponsored attack on the Indian Parliament in 2002? That time too India not only wasted time on diplomatic offensives and having massed its troops on the borders, failed to push through its military superiority. The bold military moves were allowed to fizzle out after a year under pressure from the United States.
This time around too after the Indian Government gave indications that some bold retaliatory action would be resorted to, the Government has gone into a downward slide of meaningless diplomatic offensives which is not having any visible effect on Pakistan or on countries like the United States, China, or Saudi Arabia who could use their significant leverages over Pakistan and bring it to hand over the 22 terrorists demanded by India for trial in India.
India was fortunate this time that in the Mumbai 9/11 attacks by Pakistani terrorists it was possible to capture alive one of the Pakistani terrorists providing visible and unimpeachable evidence of Pakistani involvement. This time around in Pakistani terrorist attacks in Mumbai they pointedly killed 22 0r 26 foreign tourists and pointedly singling out Americans and Israeli citizens and this should have been an eye-opener to those who have been oblivious to Pakistan's 'War of Terror' against India.
However, despite the above two significant features, the international community and more specifically the United States which lost over half a dozen citizens in Mumbai has not taken any stringent action against Pakistan. All that the United States has done is to send its top State Department officials to prevail over India to exercise restraint against Pakistan and their parallel trips to Islamabad has not brought any results which India had hoped for.
So where does India go from here to put an end to Pakistan's 'War of Terror' on India? In view of the foregoing, India has only two options. The first option would now be to take punitive military strikes against Pakistan for Mumbai9/11 after seeing the futility of its diplomatic offensive. India should have resorted to this option in the first few days itself with more decisive results.
India's second option would be to accept supinely the present crisis as a 'lump it' situation once again as India has done in the past after every major Pakistani terrorist strike against India.. In the process India opens itself to ridicule by Pakistan and a questioning by the international community that whether India is fit enough to be a regional power leave alone being an aspirant for Big Power status.
India and its political leaders, its policy establishment and its arm-chair strategists abounding on endless TV debates on India's options need to realize a simple strategic home-truth and that is :
Power Status does not come cheaply
and nor does it come without the guts to bear losses
in the pursuit of power.