After Sunjwan dust settles

Zafar Choudhary. Updated: 2/12/2018 1:03:13 PM Edit and Opinion

The Sunjwan operation is almost over. The warning of ‘retribution’ has already gone to Pakistan. The followup investigations will probably focus on ascertaining how the terrorists crossed the border to reach the Military Station. Opposition parties are already out there to say India is not safe under the current regime.

The TV channels are already berserk. This isn't the first time an Indian Army security camp has been infiltrated. It's a question of taking the initiative. Besides, when you impose excessive caution on opening fire and start filing cases against security forces for doing so, that motivates them further. There is no need to get overly impressed by these terrorists.

They have no compunctions about entering family quarters and massacring innocent women and children. And it's not even the first time this has happened. Terrorists had entered family quarters of an army camp at Kaluchak and fired indiscriminately, while a bus was also attacked 10 kilometres outside Kaluchak, in which 34 people, including 22 army personnel and their families, were killed. The response by the Indian State was thesame then too. The million dollar question is where do we go from here? First of all, the most difficult part is for policy makers to acknowledge that assaults and the odd surgical strike cannot make the Pakistan Army see sense. Secondly, it's futile to still root for talks with Pakistan though NSA-level talks are continuing.

Third, there is no alternative to developing coherent deterrents against unconventional threats; mere diplomacy has failed miserablyand threats have magnified. Our special forces' potential needs to be maximised and remain central in responding to asymmetric threats.

This should be the bread-and-butter principle of the NSA. Not just specific to Pakistan alone, but also regarding all areas of strategic interests. Rest assured, China's special forces and the People's Liberation Armyhave been deployed in covert manners in the development projects of Maldives and other parts of the region as well, while India still can't think beyond Operation Cactus 2.0.

Fourth, the porosity of the LoC can't be one-way. We must respond quietly respond to such incidents "with interest and in the same coin". Raise interest levels till the measure reaches home. Let the military handle this without political interference and fanfare. The bottom line is that the hybrid war must be carried inside enemy territory, without which we will continue to remain at the receiving end. We need to control the fault-lines of the enemy.

Cross-border artillery firing is no deterrence and we are up against a determined enemy. Afghanistan, and even Iran to some extent, are deeply impacted by Pakistani terrorism.

Islamabad may be immune to diplomatic isolation, but is geographically enveloped by India, Afghanistan and Iran. It's these three countries that must come up with a joint action plan to deal with Pakistan — diplomatically, economically and militarily, including subconventionally and through information operations — in conjuction with other friendly nations. We have to put in place a well-thought through strategy to deal with the enemy, including selective surgery that will drive the right signal home.

All governments have been complicit in the deteriorating situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

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