By Deepak Jain
This article originally appeared in The Rational Hindu.
This is not an intent to criticize the present Modi government, which is doing far better a job than any previous governments in the history of Indian politics. But when it is a matter of national security even the BEST is not enough.
Once again, sadness and vexation engulfed India, with the martyrdom of two officers and five soldiers of the Indian Army in a brave fight against Pakistan’s Islamic terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir’s Nagrota.
Once again, we went through heart-wrenching moments, witnessing wreath laying for our soldiers wrapped in the tricolour. Once again, choked with emotions and tears in our eyes, we saw grieved martyrs’ families on television.
Once again, we have those glittering news studios conducting fiery debates and discussion with grandly dressed anchors and panellists, with impeccable oratory. Once again, we have defence analysts and experts indulging in incredulous brainstorming sessions, slicing and dicing the Nagrota terrorist attack.
Once again, we have rulers’ chest thumping with a promise to give a befitting reply to the Pakistani aggression, while the heartless and clueless opposition plays politics over the bodies of our martyrs and bays for the rulers’ blood.
But unfortunately, what we will not have again is a man in uniform, always ready to lay down his life for his country, without even the slightest of qualms and fear, ensuring that we Indians have a safe and peaceful India to live in and pursue our dreams. What we will not have again is that excited little kid waiting impatiently to see his father come back home on leave. Sad but True!
The history of Pakistani aggression started immediately after India’s independence and the creation of Pakistan. In the last 70 years, India has been forced into war with Pakistan due to Pakistan’s policy of aggression and revisionism. Pakistan’s anti-status-quo attitude always kept the borders on fire.
Many C-in-Cs and COAS have held the reign of the Pakistani forces. Many civilian governments came to power, who either got aligned with the Pakistan army’s revisionist policy, or got thrown out of the power by their army if they were unwilling to align with the army. Neither the Pakistani Civilian Government nor the Pakistani Army shuns the policy to support state and non-state actors to carry out Islamic terrorist acts in India, especially in Jammu and Kashmir.
For Pakistan, India is an eternal enemy and a threat to Pakistan’s existence. Venom against India is well documented in various Pakistani journals and Green Books. Therefore, Pakistan’s hostility towards India will remain eternal, no matter who controls the reign in the civilian government or the army. Pakistan’s perpetual war against India will continue even if India gifts Kashmir to Pakistan.
Sadly, since 1947 Indian governments and its prime ministers have countered Pakistan’s aggression with a careful reactive approach and with limited measures. We Indians stand with our army. We honour the supreme sacrifice of our soldiers, who have won all the wars that we have fought with Pakistan.
However, the Indian political class and security agencies have never been able to proactively devise any long-term plan to contain Pakistan and its aggression. In this Pakistan’s proxy war against India, in the form Islamic terror, it has cost India approximately 70,000 lives of the security personnel, in the last 30 years alone.
After 2014, with the new Modi government, we have seen a paradigm shift in India’s approach towards Pakistani aggression, which we had rarely seen before 2014. Especially after the Uri attack, we have seen a resolve of the Indian Government that provides a free hand to the Indian Army, to decide and act, when to retaliate, how to retaliate and how much to retaliate. This is commendable because we had never seen such a strong and decisive government in the history of Indian politics.
The differentiating factor, in the context of the Pakistani aggression, between the previous governments and the present government in India is the free hand given to the army in its reactive and effective retaliations. Also, we have seen some impeccable diplomacy from the present Indian government to isolate Pakistan in various international fora.
However, this kind of reactive approach, no matter how effective the retaliation is, does not last long in the memory of the Pakistani army. They again hit back at India with an even greater force. This cycle goes on and on and we keep on losing our brave soldiers. For what?
Clearly, a reactive approach and an effective retaliation alone is not the solution to the Pakistani aggression.
At a time when our soldiers are being martyred continuously, due to an unprovoked Pakistani aggression, the Indian government, its security agencies and its army need to introspect on its policy for Pakistan. It is time, they ask themselves some real hard questions.
Why is India reticent to openly accept and state that Pakistan is our eternal enemy? Why cannot India devise a proactive long-term strategy, as Tufail Ahmed suggests, to isolate, contain, suffocate and fight Pakistan? Why India is still stuck with a reactive retribution alone policy, especially when it is not producing any deterrence effect against Pakistan, while Pakistan appears in no mood to learn its lessons?
Why cannot India go full throttle on waging a water war against Pakistan? Why India appears frightened to put Pakistan on economic sanctions, a potent and vital tool that India can exercise? Why is India reluctant to revoke the MFN status, unilaterally awarded by it, for Pakistan? Why cannot India retrench high commission staff in Pakistan?
These are questions which governments from the past and the present never answered and the common man is left wondering. I hope that the present Modi government, which is remarkably different and bold in comparison to the past governments that were outright lethargic, corrupt and indecisive, would be able to answer these questions being asked by us, the common men.
As an emerging economic and military power, India must possess armed forces abreast with newer technologies and weapon systems that can guarantee security of its interests in a dynamic and unstable international geopolitical environment.
Sluggish modernisation is costing lives of our precious soldiers and affects their morale profoundly. The Modi government should be appreciated for giving one of the most honest defence ministers in the history of Indian politics. The minister has brought in speed and transparency to many a defence deals. However, this alone will be insufficient and the government should further speed up the process of acquiring modern technology, equipment and weapons, to empower our brave soldiers and to safeguard our security interests, without losing our soldiers lives.
We are proud indeed of our security agencies who risk their lives in some of the most hostile international geopolitical environments and gather intelligence. Though their work might not be acknowledged by the government in the public, we Indians are proud of their immense selfless service to the nation.
However, as in the past and now in the present we have witnessed some major intelligence failures, e.g. in Kargil, Pathankot, Uri and now in Nagrota. These shocking lapses make India unable to anticipate the next major Pakistani offensive, resulting in a situation of ever rising causalities in a prolonged neverending conflict. Thus security agencies need to recover their shine back from the era of R. N. Kao perhaps.
As an honest taxpayer, a law abiding and a patriotic citizen, I felt it is imperative for me to pen down about the pain we, the common men, feel for our soldiers. Soldiers who even lose their lives fighting tirelessly for the nation, with sheer grit and courage at a very hostile border.
The political class and the security agencies should feel the same emotional pain for our men on the border. Our soldiers should never be left to fight on sheer grit and courage alone, without the benefits of the advancement in warfare technologies, modern equipment, state-of-art weapons. Additionally, we need a proactive strategy and an actionable supply of the best possible intelligence.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
An ordinary citizen of India.
This article originally appeared in The Rational Hindu.