In taking a call to respond robustly to the terror attacks on Indian soil, India definitely has `gamed’ the possible scenarios and has prepared itself for the escalation, as it may unfold. It however has signalled Pakistan tacitly that: the response is being kept confined to the LC (Line of Control) sector of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and it is against terrorist camps.
By Lt Gen Anil Ahuja (Retd)
In a pre-dawn strike today, 12 fighter jets of Indian Air force struck the biggest JeM terrorist camp at Balakot in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). Although earlier statements alluded to strikes also having been carried out at Chakothi and Muzaffarabad, but these remain unsubstantiated.
Yes, Indian Air Force has carried out these strikes, penetrating Pakistan’s early warning and air defence network, which obviously would have been on high alert, post Pulwama. It has done it with a sizeable number of aircraft, which would have been appropriately and robustly packaged to suppress the electronic surveillance and warfare systems.
Also, India has proudly accepted this, quite like JeM (shamefully) accepted having carried out the terroristattack on the CRPF convoy at Pulwama. Having `penetrated’ the Pakistani air space, surely the aircraft could have flown in deeper, even marginally. There did exist other options for strike: military targets, command and control centres/ HQs, population centres, bridges and other vital civil and military infrastructure.
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India however, yet again, consciously chose `non- military’ target and this is the largest JeM training camp, the `terror factory’ of Pakistan. The laser guided bombs would definitely have caused sufficient damage to send a clear message that India is willing to fight its own war on terror.
It should also be evident to Pakistan that China is unlikely to support it in pursuit of `proxy war’. Even from the perspective of the US, Pakistan’s engagement with India would help denude its support to Afghan Taliban and
would be welcome in the context of settling Afghanistan imbroglio.
Too many friends may not be available to Pakistan in this game of brinkmanship. In taking a call to respond robustly to the terror attacks on Indian soil, India definitely has `gamed’ the possible scenarios and has prepared itself for the escalation, as it may unfold. It however has signalled Pakistan tacitly that: the response is being kept confined to the LC (Line of Control) sector of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and it is against terrorist camps.
If Pakistan is serious about combating terror, we can walk along together. In case however Pakistan wishes to escalate, outside J&K or in other domains, it definitely would be at a very heavy cost, militarily and economically. The sabre rattling of TNWs is best avoided because not only will the Indian Armed forces fight through it but Pakistan would be subject to appropriate response as per Indian doctrine of `massive retaliation to cause unacceptable damage’. There are no flexible responses in that domain and the aspect is best kept `off the table’.
(The author is former deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff. Views expressed are personal)