Prime Minister Narendra Modi is finding his foreign (cum military) policy in tatters on several fronts.
His attempt to coerce Pakistan into acknowledging that there’s a new game afoot and that every terroprist incident will trigger a prompt response in kind hasn’t worked. GHQR (General Headquarters, Rawalpindi) has not risen to the bait nor have the cross-LoC terrorist shootups stopped. The much trumpeted “surgical strikes” did not prevent/dissuade/deter the Pakistan army minders of the LeT/JeM cadres from launching attacks on Baramulla and following that up with the strike on Pampore, where the jihadis are holed up in a educational institute from which premises, the paramils have, so far, failed to clear, even as they have taken many casualties.
Manmohan Singh’s NSA, Shivshankar Menon, has explained, to no one’s surprise, that cross-LoC covert ops by Special Forces are routine and differ from the “surgical strike” policy only in that the BJP dispensation wanted to get some political benefits from going public with it, whence the need for grandstanding.
That there’s no known retaliation by Indian forces for the Baramulla and Parampore attacks suggests one of two things, that having thought through the situation the Modi PMO has thought it best to revert to the covert war norms, thereby permitting both the Indian and Pakistan armies plausible deniability for actions undertaken by either across the LoC; or, they are stuck to a metric mentioned in a previous blog — of publicly-acknowledged retaliation on the basis of unacceptable level of military fatalities. This last makes no sense. The former option of returning to covert ops is more sustainable and, properly planned and executed, has far greater potential for disruption in PoK.
Modi’s parallel policy prongs of getting China’s backing for a policy of retaliation, and of keeping Russia on India’s side even as Delhi scampers to the US side in the unfolding power politics are, likewise, failing. The Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baoling was categorical: “No country”, he said, “should pursue its own political gains in the name of counterterrorism.” (See http://tribune.com.pk/story/1197012/india-striving-promote-military-ties-china/.) This pays put to Modi’s idea of getting the BRICS countries (at the Goa summit) to support the idea of an international convention against terrorism. MEA would be best advised to ditch this initiative than have it rejected in the plenary.
Trying to shore up its leverage in Delhi, Moscow has done the obvious thing of talking arms supplies to Pakistan on concessionary terms no doubt, and given expression to its policy trend by conducting a military exercise — the first of its kind ever, with the Pakistan army. Sure, on Delhi’s protests Moscow arranged to move the exercise from the Baltistan area of PoK to the Pak interior. But its explanation that the exercise was meant to inculcate an anti-terrorist stance in the Pakistan army is laughable. Except, the whole episode portends the firming up of a Russia-China strategic cushion for Pakistan to fall back on — something I have warned about in my books, and all my writings. The Vladimir Putin regime is unlikely to accept being fobbed off with contracts for additional VVER 1000 nuclear power units at Kudankulum, in return for not reacting adversely to Delhi’s favouring exorbitantly priced US and Western military hardware buys at the expense of India’s longstanding military supply relationship. So, Kremlin is making known the strategic costs India will have to bear, costs the US cannot make up. It will pretty much ensure that Modi’s departing from the country’s tested policy of some five decades as international power balancer will end up diminishing India globally.
Half way into his five year term, the grand scheme of Modi and his team (Messrs Doval, Jaishankar, et al) seems headed for a fall, as they have made plain their intent to carry on in this vein even if it runs India, foreign-military policy-wise, into the ground.