One-off action or sustained punishment by FIRE?

Image result for pics of armies on the ceasefire line in kashmir

It is incomprehensible that the Pakistan Army, that branched off from the parent Indian Army at Partition, which in its pre-1947 avatar was celebrated for its sense of “Honour”, has taken to doing what it has done by way of killing Indian soldiers and then mutilating their bodies . Of course, honour was a conveniently imperial notion the British cleverly used to control the native sepoys by reinforcing their traditional fidelity to personal izzat. It helped the colonial overlords ensure that a mercenary force retained its loyalty to the British crown to the very last and kept the subcontinent in chains. So ‘honour’ is not a concept that can be lightly dismissed as irrelevant, even as legacy — even if this legacy led shamefully to a few thousand Britons at the height of the Raj cowing down a half-billion Indians with a native army. (Just how this was managed  in Philip Mason’s 1974 paean “A Matter of Honour: An Account of the Indian Army, its Officers and Men”).

It is hard to believe that, unlike the Indian Army which has retained that standard, the Pakistan Army has, in a matter of a few decades, been reduced to a horde of punch-drunk medieval barbarians. It is one thing for Pakistani soldiers to engage in cross-LOC operations or in Special Forces actions in Indian Kashmir, quite another, however, for them to disembowel, behead, gouge out eyes, and otherwise carve up the bodies of Indian counterparts they have killed on the ceasefire line.

There have been too many such atrocities in the last few years (three so far, including the latest one) — succeeding similar acts of savagery displayed by the Pakistanis in the 1999 Kargil border war (while the Indian army, in contrast, returned the properly-draped  bodies of Northern Light Infantry-men killed in Indian offensive actions, with respect), for these to be passed off as stray acts of needless brutality.  If this leads to the obvious conclusion that such atrocities are actually sanctioned and authorized by GHQ, Rawalpindi, as a legitimate ‘ruse de guerre’, then that puts a different spin on these developments and needs to be responded to in kind.

Just may be, the Indian Army is behind the times and needs to be less “propah” and more wild and atavistic. Here I am reminded of veterans of the 1965 War recalling the fact that the capture of large numbers of Pakistan Patton tanks at Assal Uttar and elsewhere owed not little to the Pakistani tankman’s fear of being burned alive with direct Indian shots. Many Indian officers witnessed Pakistani cavalrymen jumping out of tanks and running for their lives, rather than staying in their armoured vehicles, fighting to the last shell (a ‘la Lt Arun Khetrapal, PVC, 17 Horse) and get roasted.

With superstitious Pakistani peasant soldiery convinced that they have to avoid getting burnt alive at all cost, lest they miss out on the good afterlife offered by shahadat in battle, in mind, shouldn’t a series of sustained retributive actiona across the LoC be planned involving uniform and extensive use of flame throwers? Because quite literally  fire is what terrorizes the Pakistani soldiers out of their fighting wits, it is time to deploy it against them. A spate of sustained actions by regular front line units and Para-commando units held as Northern Army reserve wielding bazookas, will have more than a mass deterrent effect on the Pakistani army on the LoC, it may psychologically cripple the Pakistani jawans on the Kashmir front and, once the word spreads, the Pakistan Army.

Unfortunately, such fiery retribution seems unlikely. Because the only retaliatory measure the Indian Army could immediately think up was to lose off a barrage of small arms and mortar fire — the expected response the Pakistanis are  always prepared to absorb. The Indian Army may as well do nothing for all the impact it will have. It is all very well for the part-time defence minister Arun Jaitley to promise that the mutilation of the bodies of the Sikh regiment JCO and a BSF trooper will be avenged.  Quite another thing for Delhi to do the right thing and make it clear to Gen Qamar Bajwa and his cohort that India means business by executing some seriously disruptive actions.

The need is for a sustained programme extended over months, possibly a year or two, to terrorize the fighting man in the Pak Army with the prospect of an end he mortally dreads — death by burning. The prelude to such a programme should be the raining down of leaflets in Urdu threatening just such retributive justice for the excesses committed against Indian soldiers. It will unhinge the forward-placed Paki units, soften them up for the kill, so to say. by keeping them on tenterhooks.

But can the Modi-Doval duo that talks big — with only a single so-called “surgical strike” to boast of so far — act meaningfully for a change in the military arena? I doubt it, what with the Indian PM’s Washington trip slated for sometime in June and hence his felt need to not get Trump all riled up by getting their “partner in crimes” in Afghanistan — the Pakistan Army, loved by the US Defence Secretary General James Mattis and Trump’s NSA Lt Gen HR McMaster, on the hop.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
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8 Responses to One-off action or sustained punishment by FIRE?

  1. andy says:

    This is a great suggestion ,if only the Indian establishment takes it up.Put the fear of burning to death in the minds of the enemy, which all but cancels their ticket to paradise that ostensibly they are entitled to if killed during jihad.

    Such a tactic could even be used to flush out terrorist hiding during encounters, In fact the Indian army has a weapon thats suitable for just such action in the form of the ‘Shmel’ thermobaric rocket launcher or more commonly flamethrower.The Russian made ‘Shmel’ has the effect of a mini nuclear weapon and is designed to pulverise its target. The word flamethrower is in fact a misnomer because it is not a flame spewing weapon. The Shmel fires a ‘thermobaric’ warhead which works by dispersing a highly flammable fuel vapour, then igniting this cloud while it hangs over the target. The resulting blast generates a 3000-degree Celsius fireball that not only causes powerful burns but also a high pressure shockwave that sucks out all the oxygen an area of 50 square metres outdoors and 80 cubic metres indoors.In fact this weapon was extensively used during the surgical strkes across the LOC with devastating effect.

    Time is ripe for more such action.

    • andy says:

      The cost is just 800 to 900 USD per piece(if the above article is right)which is peanuts,ordering a few thousand and using them extensively across the LOC and during encounters should put the fear of GOD into the jihadis and their masters.Wonder how many India can buy for the price of one Rafale?

      An ingenious course of action if ever there was one.

  2. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    @BK, remember the last time our establishment first leaked the info. of a surreptitious retaliatory-incursion and when they observed that it failed to communicate with the masses, only then did they end up with a full scale commando action. Unfortunately for us this sort of action does not gives any solution much less a permanent solution (as distinct from a final solution, which I am not advocating for). Our establishment does not first of all work unless they feel pressured and even when they decide to press their advantages they will do it only for the crowd in the stands. Pushed too hard they will end up making mistakes which could be costly. Like the last time we got a few pigs for our lions – a bad bargain for anybody who understands that all the Sunny Leones are not enough and that one fat wife is appropriate enough, in all circumstances.

    Psychological use of a fiery / Un-halal deaths and automaticity in escalated/graduated retaliatory response are two suggestions that you have thrown up. I don’t doubt the efficacy of these but where is the permanence in the solution? Granted, nothing is permanent but at least the larger body of India must end up contributing towards a solution. If not then at some point the establishment will have to lie, to justify its decisions. Something already happening in India.

    Pakis do this because they know they can get away with it especially given that only the small-time pakis pawn is going to burn. Given that these foot soldiers would be necessary to their establishment to keep up its usual stuff, you are right if these foot soldiers lose heart then the higher ups would be hobbled to that degree. But then there are nice islamic halal solutions to manage the fallout. They can always cite the ‘cruelty’ and ‘duplicity’ in denying a brave ghazi his rightful place with the hooris. This supposed wrong will be enough to inspire ghazis to despise our people. This hate would be the first condition for seeking revenge.

    Paki establishment gets away with it because they have not been properly challenged ever.

    1) One way would be the sure fire way. The way chosen by Hanuman when he instigated Akashay Kumar and then killed him or the way Bhim killed all the Kauravs. By making it too personal for Bajwa and the Rawalpindi families. Make these families seek revenge and then kill them for it. Unfortunately there would not be one General or Neta or Babu in India who would not fear for his person and his family as and when the sure retaliatory action is going to come. Paki retaliation should be expected and counted upon to be ultimately used against them. But an establishment that itself advertises the fact that much of their intel is just a handout from the Americans cannot realistically be expected to be moved by anybodies honor. They would not have allowed themselves into this compromised position otherwise. For this route a sense of honour that matches Hanuman and Bhim would be required.

    2) Alternatively there could be a less surefire way but which may still be achievable for our establishment. Sketch out a grand databank of intel, of who is linked to whom in what manner and what are the pain and pleasure points, both inside and outside Pakistan. Then make sure that the very pillars which support the sense of self-belief of the Pakis are pulled from under their feet in some calculated manner – Polity, Economy, Old-boys network, Chinese help, American help, Ummah help. Since this can only be a long term course of action so this should be workable given the limitations. Our establishment, gets to not feel like being pushed around after every sly attack. Our people in future will have an option to work with. The route to #1 remains an option on call. Our Army does not have to feel like a fool endlessly ‘vowing appropriate action’. Nobody wins directly and spectacularly but everybody gets a chance to work towards success without feeling like being pushed too hard. Who knows, some remote in-determinate future, will bestow success-phalam.

    A weaker form of this second route is being tried by the lazy folks – incessant crying for NSG, UNSC, MTRC in the general hope that Pakis would feel miserable at the ‘great strides’ being achieved by our establishment. Probably the hope is that in their misery Pakis would take to Gandhian way of non-violence or some such higher goal. But unless our establishment acknowledges that they themselves have been victims of this multi-pronged approach deployed by Americans, they will never be able to learn it themselves and deploy it against others.

    But whatever they chose they first have to own the truth, recognize it, accept it, even if they do not admit to it.

    • ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

      See this is what I am talking about. How to manage expectations when everybody has already decided to lie to each other. news/india/five-ways-india-can-avenge-pakistan-mutilation-of-soldiers-1388951.html
      Here are five options before India to respond to the grave provocation:
      OPTION 1: Artillery attack on Pakistan post
      OPTION 2: Covert cross-border raids
      OPTION 3: Raise the issue at International Court of Justice
      OPTION 4: Raise the issue with Pakistan at a flag meeting
      OPTION 5: Snap bilateral ties, expel high commissioner

      • andy says:

        Re:”Paki establishment gets away with it because they have not been properly challenged ever”

        Completely agree with this part of comment,the rest is a bit difficult to understand.Challenging them by promising a fiery death is as good a tactic as one can get in the circumstances.This is a war of attrition and there are no quick fixes or permanent solutions, especially under a nuclear overhang,just cannot talk peace with utterly brainwashed and determined terror breeding Islamists,whose raison d’etre is anti India sentiment.Everything has been tried but no solution to this vexatious problem has been found

        One way seems to be to slowly but surely break the will of the footsoilders by the promise of an unholy death at the hands of the infields that will put them on the highway to hell.

        India can probably achieve a reverse brainwash when death during jihad leads not to the ‘hoors in heaven’ but to hellfires, with infidels for company.It seems to be compelling argument for trial.

  3. My suggestion of use of FIRE is purely tactical, as I have made clear. The larger solution I have written at length on — there’s no alternative to coopting the eminently cooptable Pak establishment, including army. In my first book ‘Future Imperilled’ (1994), had mapped out a security architecture which meshes with my proposals in later books for unilaterally withdrawing N-tipped SRBMs from the western border, rationalizing the armrd element to a single composite strike corps, etc., that suggested relying on the Pak army as the guardian of the western marches, etc. Unrealistic, perhaps, But doable if the Kashmir dispute is resolved along the lines Musharraf had offered in 2007 that Manmohan Singh did not have the political courage to accept in toto.

  4. raja says:

    Talks with pakistan are futile. A massive damage should be inflicted on them such that they cannot rebuild even in two decades. Else the tragedy will continue. In the future with their submarine arm getting strengthened and the chinese naval buildup around India it will be tougher to deal with pakistan.At an opportune moment whatever we have on the western border just dump it on pakistan even if it requires our last weapon. We should not tolerate this diabolical piece of land any further.

  5. Looky says:

    Let India start with baby steps, declare Pakistan a terrorist sponsoring nation in the Parliament. Scrap MFN for Pakistan.
    Why is Jindal in Pakistan?. He is making money in India what is he doing on Pakistan.
    Indian politicians talk big but do nothing just cover their back side and power and rule over the local tribe that is all.
    For example, Previous BJP PM Vajpaye during Kargil instead of taking on Pakistan, he was writing letters to then US president Clinton like a school boy complaining, oh Pakistan is bullying in Kargil, instead of Taking fight into Pakistan cross LOC. No he was writing poetry or musing so he can see if he can get a Nobel peace price or something with bowing down to Pakistan.
    Manmohan Sigh was a disgrace, less said the better, now Modi, all the chest thumping nothing but sending some secret talks and surprise visit to Pakistan, for what?. All know you put your hand in fire it will get burnt never put your hand in snake pit, why are these people doing it.
    The opposition wants only to embarrass what ever the government does to see if they can get some browny points. No national interest.
    By the way where are the so called people wanting to return the awards now?. After the mutilation.

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