- The raid across the LoC opens new windows if India holds her nerve.
- Such raids must become routine, and some must be pre-emptive.
- It is time for Pakistan to be hammered and isolated.
The fog of war obscures the details of the multiple raids India carried out in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. In truth, these were raids rather military strikes. India claims it killed fifty terrorists and a few Pakistani army men. And if true, that is a robust response by any measure.
The casualties are hard to deny - given the scale of the operation and the international prestige, India attaches to it. Here are a few important takeaways from the raid.
1) For India, the raids must not be a one-time event. They must sometimes be preemptive:
Without such a strategy, the raids may prove to be nothing more than an avenging act by a frustrated nation. Fortunately, in PM Modi, we have a leader tough to second guess. For him to succeed in public affairs - and in strategy - the raids need to be a benchmark. They must be the new normal.
Pakistan must know that if it makes a move, it will have a swift punishing response.
While Pakistan has a formidable network - with boots on the ground all across the LoC, It lacks radars and sensors. This makes punitive airborne strikes easier.
The international community has been surprisingly uncritical of the raids. This ratchets up the pressure on the Islamic republic.
For the Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, it is an awkward time. He is easier to sacrifice for the Pakistan Army then Indian troops. One can almost hear him call the Saudi King for refurbishing that old five-BHK flat into which he fled away when trying to make sure that his handpicked General, Musharaf, would not relieve his body of the weight of his head.
Pakistan, dear readers, has been in such a state for a very long time.
2) The raids disrupt the proxy war narrative:
The raids, while not unique (similar offensives have happened in response to barbaric Pakistani attacks before) underpin that, by its very nature, India's strategy is fluid.
They illustrate that Narendra Modi is a different kind of leader. He has raised the stakes by going public with the high-profile raid.
3) An escalation of hostilities is underway:
This will likely translate into Pakistanis and proxies being killed. Likewise, India may suffer too. The Indian Prime Minister must address the nation to underline that this will be a bloody and long, though ultimately victorious strategy. Blood is indeed on the macabre dance floor.
4) The longer India continues to hit back, the lesser proxy war makes sense for Pakistan:
A proxy war works well if the kill ratio is at last 1:4. Even at 1:2 it loses much of its edge. You may remember a dialogue from the cult classic Sholay – "Tum Ek maroge to hum Char marenge". Well, retaliation is just that. All that planning, the monies spent on the training, the diplomatic cost – all of it - demands blood.
If you bleed as well, what’s the point? Pakistan has discovered this on its western front though the lives lost to US drones. Now the story is being played out once again in the East.
5) Terror, like Apartheid, needs to be repulsed at all levels:
India needs to make up its mind on one simple fact. Is state-sponsored terror that works on the two-nation theory toxic? Is it a systemic challenge? If so, the strategic response must go beyond five-kilometer raids that kill three dozens.
Like apartheid in South Africa, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan must be repulsed at all levels. Trade, commerce, exchanges and buses must be stopped till they halt the sponsorship of terror as a state instrument.
PM Modi will need to do a Ronald Regan, and also declare that the evil empire of terror will not stand.
That takes a lot of doing. The raids are a good start.
Ninad D Sheth is a senior Delhi-based journalist. The views expressed in this article are his own.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:36 PM IST