Jun 01, 2023
Jun 01, 2023
Unconventional Responses Across the Border
Military responses must obviously be in consonance with military threats. While building a conventional military asymmetry has long term payoffs, it paradoxically could be the very reason forcing Pakistan to trigger an increase in the unconventional threat.
The strong dissuasion of Western Powers towards a conventional conflict developing in the region, must also be factored into our strategy to respond to Pakistan.
An alternative strategy would be to respond to the proxy war by carrying the threat across the borders. Covert operations must be met with covert military responses across the Line of Control. Neutralizing targets across the borders covertly by Special Forces is another significant military strategy that shall force Pakistan on the defensive and make it reconsider its current strategy. India has been prudish in considering and debating such a response. In fact stating it openly is considered sacrileges and an affront to civilized society. It underscores the problems of modern states that find it extremely difficult to deviate from the principles of civilized declared wars.
Pakistan is not militarily prepared to meet such a challenge and therefore will be forced on the defensive. In fact the disproportionate factor (the overwhelming military force required to combat much smaller groups) will work in reverse. The scale of effort involved in combating such military offensive action can be gauged by the massive costs to India over the last decade.
Building a Conventional Deterrence Capability
One major decision that the political leadership needs to take is to outline a clearly enunciated declaratory military response policy in the event of violence against the state of India. The response to violent incidents, if a linkage is established to another country, must be made public and it would then be binding on the current leadership to execute bold military action when the situation arises.
The many years fighting terrorism must not deter the resolve of the Indian State in building strong conventional force superiority over Pakistan. Not only will this build a deterrent capability, but India must also demonstrate the will to use its Armed Forces across the LC or IB if provoked by Pakistan. The Declaratory Policy must state the possible military responses to terrorist strikes sponsored by other nations and the military must demonstrate this will for a credible deterrence capability.
The Role of the Media
The extraordinary proliferation of media networks over the last decade has given them huge influence over the shaping of public opinion without any corresponding accountability. Media stories on counter terrorism do not reflect any responsibility, as was seen during the Kandhahar hijacking. There is also little education on national security issues and the lack of maturity of the media is seen by the way the media dutifully hype terrorist actions – precisely what the terrorists intend. The media is often inadvertent agents of terrorists’ organizations. Media policy and education on coverage of sensitive national security issues must concern the government and there is a need to formalize such an arrangement with major media houses.
On the other hand, it is advisable for the military to give full information to the media for the odd bad incident. The media shall ferret out the story as it is, and in the absence of a response, the media and therefore the public, shall be forced to fill in the blanks of what is not stated. This is likely to lead to greater criticism and public mistrust which could be avoided by an outright acceptance of the mistake.
Managing Internal Policy
In the delicate security environment facing the nation, the internal policies and actions by the various governments have a profound impact on our external vulnerabilities. The impact, for example, of the destruction of the Babri Masjid has had huge international repercussions and has greatly affected our equation with Arab countries. In fact, a result of this one incident, coupled with the events of Gujarat in 2002, is the considerable monetary and emotional support from the Islamic brotherhood to the fundamentalist elements within and outside Kashmir. The groundswell of public support to the Kashmiri cause among Muslims all over the world, especially in Pakistan, and probably even in Bangladesh, due to such crude and un-secular actions, is a cost that has been ignored, but which cannot be disputed.
Internal policies and actions must therefore also factor the long-term security implication for the nation and not just consider the narrow needs of the politics of power.
Five major areas of concern which will indirectly impact national security of India in the future are; the growing disparities of income, rising unemployment among the less educated, divisive communalism, overpopulation especially among the relatively backward Muslim population, and the enormous influx of economically backward Bangladeshis into the country. Such unequal social development is resulting in the rapid spread of mass violent movements like the Maoists insurgencies. These are all extremely dangerous conditions, and in the present context, a clever enemy like Pakistan, can exploit each ruthlessly, without a bullet being fired across the borders.
There is an urgent need to redefine our response to the security threats encompassing the Indian nation and now the World. The ongoing peace initiatives must not cloud the reality that terrorist outfits cannot survive in a land locked region without covert support from the constitutional power in the country. The Pakistani establishment must be pushed to doing more.
There is a need also to develop a broad consensus on the response to such threats going beyond narrow nationalistic considerations. The world must get Pakistan to act.
More by : Col. Gopal Karunakaran