I wrote the last post yesterday that the reaction to the Baramulla strike on the RR camp ought to be a sustained operation against the terrorists deep inside PoK. This morning, Economic Times on its front page had an intriguing story “Army wants Six Months to Smash PoK Terror Ops” (http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/army-wants-six-months-to-smash-terror-infrastructure-in-pakistan-occupied-kashmir/articleshow/54664612.cms) about Army HQrs seeking sanction from the Modi government for a sustained cross-LoC drive against ISI-managed and Pakistan army protected LeT/JeM infrastructure. Without sounding too bloodthirsty, GOI should authorize such a strategy. It will free the army to realize its plan without its having to seek political approval at every turn or before every action. If the army is essentially demanding that professionals be left free to obtain the outcome GOI wants, then it is time that such a carte blanche, in fact, be given.
For one thing because the army seems to be fired up, especially because of the criticism about the complacency and lax attitude permeating the military that, time and again, permits jihadis to stroll in and shoot up army camps and kill jawans at will, the army is reacting in this visceral fashion. This is a good thing to see happen. It shows there’s some self-respect left in the Indian land forces after all.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar too should be enthused and grant the army the license to proceed because he has after all taken the credit for instilling “self confidence” in the armed forces for too long acting like Hanuman drained off his confidence before his Lanka operation! In other words, Parrikar has taken on the persona of Hanuman’s friend in the Ramayana epic — Jambuwan, the Bear who reminds the great Monkey God of his inherent strength and advises him to shake off his diffidence, and get on with the job of defeating the enemy. [This is a curious thing to happen, because in my book ‘Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)’ I use this episode as the curtain raiser in the first chapter, to liken the Indian nation to Hanuman, who is in a funk and unable to gauge his own enormous strength.]
Now that the army is all fired up, it will be tragic if not criminal to see such stoked-up spirit go waste. Parrikar should advise Modi to OK the army’s plans for eliminating the terrorist scourge — whatever it takes, however long it takes.
There’s yet another reason the army should be given the go-ahead. It is the first time in a very, very long time that the army is thinking along such proactive offensive lines. Such initiatives should be heartily encouraged. Talking of variants of Cold Start doesn’t help — because it is an inherently impracticable, over-expensive, set of plans that only cavalry generals get worked up about, but will fail to deliver the outcome of conventionally subduing Pakistan. But the army’s plans of carrying out a scheme of strikes ought to gain traction with PM Modi, even if his NSA Ajit Doval establishes links with his opposite number in Pakistan, and agrees to calm things down.
It will be especially interesting to see is how the Indian army, in pursuit of its strategy, will deal with the Pakistan army that will rise to protect the terrorist outfits and will fight the Indian Special Forces in PoK.
To limit India-Pak relations to just the one formal Doval track, without also allowing the army to be active on a parallel track, by getting on with whatever it has in mind to do, is to fall back on the old belief that only resumption of talks will matter in the context of the supposed success of the “surgical strikes” fueling the conviction that a sufficiently chastised Islamabad will now follow Delhi’s script. It won’t, but assuming the Indian army successfully beats up on the terrorists and the Pak army support system, it will certainly give GHQR pause for thought.