Opinion: India's tough strike against Pakistan continues

An Indian Army soldier guards the Line of Control. Photograph:( Getty )

New Delhi, Delhi, India Dec 26, 2017, 12.22 PM (IST) Major General S B Asthana

 

Reports are pouring in of the Indian force destroying two Pakistani posts in retaliation for the killing of its jawan in unprovoked firing. The BSF spokesperson said that two Pakistani mortar positions were "located, targeted and destroyed by BSF troopers yesterday night only. The coordinated precision fire of BSF troopers silenced Pakistani guns." 

Prior to this, only weeks ago, Indian security forces in retaliatory action against Pakistan, killed three Pakistani soldiers across the LoC and injured one as per media reports. The backdrop of this action was unprovoked ceasefire violation by Pakistan along the LoC on Saturday, wherein three jawans and one Major of India were martyred. It is obvious that to avoid embarrassment to the Pakistani Army, Pakistan would avoid commenting that the Indian soldiers crossed the LoC.

The ceasefire violations by Pakistan and retaliatory actions by India has been a common feature ever since the truce between both the neighbours along the International Border (IB), Line of Control and the Actual Ground Position Line in Jammu and Kashmir came into force in November 2003. 

The violations are mainly concentrated in Jammu and Kashmir which accounts for 221 km of the IB and 740 km of the LoC. The pattern of these violations has some serious strategic indicators. 

Earlier, Pakistan used to start the firing along LoC to help the militants to infiltrate, which used to be responded appropriately by Indians. After innocent civilians suffered many casualties, they started preparing bunkers or redesigning their houses to minimise casualties along LoC, and the Indian security forces helped them to do so. Once Pakistanis realised the effect of firing across the LoC, they started firing along IB also, as the Indian population there was less used to firing in that area, the chances of getting casualties of innocent civilians were, therefore, higher. 

Pakistan opts to target civilians to achieve greater impact because of sensitivities involved, and blames India to have started the firing first. It knows well that India will respond and the damages done due to response can be highlighted to the world. It will help to claim the status of a helpless country deterred by India, as Pakistan Prime Minister Abbasi, in New York, called India as “Existential threat”. Indians are not involved in a proxy war, hence, it cannot have any interest to start any cross-border firing. This pattern is continuing for many years now.

Having exhausted all kinds of peace initiatives in past, India tried some innovative ideas to send stronger messages to Pakistan. India decided and carried out surgical strikes on terrorist camps, well inside the Pakistani territory, to stop terrorist activities and proxy war. This was a daring act, which was required, but it has certain implications. 

No defence analyst would expect that militancy will end by one such action, hence some militant attacks even after the surgical strikes were expected. It was, therefore, understandable that some more actions like this will be required at various intervals, whenever Pakistan hikes up its militant activities. The action of Indian Security Forces on Monday night needs to be read in that context.

In 2017, over 200 militants have been killed in Kashmir, which is an unprecedented number, indicating Pakistan that their proxy war may not work due to the synergised action of all Indian security forces, NIA, and the government agencies. The only option left for Pakistani Army now is to increase cross-border firing in softer areas (449 in 2016 to 881 in 2017), and increase Border Action Team ( BAT) actions along with militants to cause casualties to security forces and innocent civilians. 

In future Indian security forces, as well as, civil population along IB/LoC have to be even more careful to beat Pakistan’s design of proxy war and cross-border firing. India will have to be ready for all eventualities within its own comprehensive national power.

 

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL).

Major General S B Asthana

Major General S B Asthana had been an Infantry General with 40 years of defence experience at national and international level.