Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal
THE upsurge in protracted Kashmiris freedom movement has frustrated both Indian ruling elite and military establishment. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu fundamentalist cabinet members are frustrated. They have been employing a worst kind of state terrorism to pacify the demonstrators in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. In addition, they have been using diplomatic means to divert the international community attention from their brutal tactics in the Indian held Kashmir. Importantly, the Indian law enforcement agencies condemnable atrocities have been proving counterproductive. The freedom fighters have successfully been sustaining the momentum of the movement domestically and also attracting the attention of the international community.
The Indian military base in Nagrota was attacked on November 28, 20016 by the insurgents. Consequently, seven Indian Army personnel, including two officers, died in an attack. Instead of addressing the genuine issues of the people of India, the ruling BJP elite under the leadership of Prime Minister Nerendra Modihave been utilizing and warmongering rhetoric to muster the support of the voters in the forthcoming state elections in Indian Punjab, Utter Pardesh. Rationality demands that Premier Modi should address the real cause, i.e. “Kashmiris right of self-determination”.
The increasing tension at the Line of Control and working boundary and Indian leadership’s warmongering is alarming. The probability of the escalation of the conflict on the LOC cannot be ruled out. On November 23, 2016, the Indian forces targeted an ambulance and a passenger bus near the Dhudnial town in Neelum Valley along the LOC and killed eleven and injured seven civilians. Though the deliberate targeting of Civilians did not escalate the conflict, yet the fear and trepidation continues about the perilous spiraling of conflict. Indeed, continuity of the border skirmishes between the nuclear-armed belligerent neighbours pose a serious challenge to the regional strategic stability.
The Indian Military has adopted multi-pronged risky strategy to coerce Pakistani armed forces. The Indian German-made diesel-electric submarine intruded into Pakistani waters to assess Pakistani Navy readiness or signal that Indian Navy may go Naval blockade of Pakistan. The Pakistan Navy detected it and repealed the sea intruder vessel. Reversing of the violator vessel did not terminate the problem. Subsequently, the Indian spy drone was detected 60 miles inside of Pakistan. It was another alarming violation. The Pakistani border forces brought it down. Despite Indian armed forces sustained fire at the Line of Control and working boundary, killing of both Pakistani soldiers as well as civilians and violation of Pakistani territory, Islamabad has been desisting from upping military ante at the border.
The ridiculous irresponsible behaviour of the Indian ruling elite compels Islamabad to adopt defensive countermeasures for the sustainability of deterrence stability. Pakistan military conducted exercises and drills in November 2016 near the eastern border in the Khairpur Tamewali sector nearly 70 kilometres from Bahawalpur. Pakistan Air Force also participated in the exercise. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with the then Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Rashad Mahmoud and three services chiefs witnessed the military exercise. On November 24, 2016, the three services chiefs of Pakistani armed forces reiterated that: “their troops are fully prepared to counter any external aggression and protect the motherland and warned India not to underestimate fighting capabilities of Pakistan’s armed forces.”
The formal Chief of the Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif during his farewell reception stated that: “I have given a very clear message to Modi Sarkar that we have fought and sorted them out [Taliban], so if needed to fight with uniformed [Indian] army, we will pierce in the middle of their army.” His successor Gen. Bajwa reiterated that Pakistan army is prepared to check the adventurist movements of the Indian armed forces. Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman stated: “we know how to grab them [Indian forces] and where to hit them. But let me tell you frankly, we are not worried about India at all.” Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Zakaullah pointed out that: “There are several other factors which are behind this recent [Indian] aggression, but we are retaliating in much stronger way. They [Indians] know it well that whenever they try to [make any] mischief, we will respond and respond strongly.”
The joint Army and Air Force military exercise demonstrated not only battle readiness of the Pakistani armed forces but also illustrated that India’s Cold Start Doctrine and Proactive Military Operation Strategy would be effectively checked by the Pakistani armed forces. Perhaps, any military adventure of the Indian armed forces would be countered compellingly. Pakistan’s military response would be having inbuilt escalatory variable which is dangerous for the entire region. Therefore, Islamabad should observe maximum restrain to avoid the lethal escalation of the conflict and adopt assertive politico-diplomatic encompassing military grand strategy to check Modi’s coercive irrational gamble. At the same time, Islamabad should not ignore the Modi’s incursions and respond in kind.
— The writer is Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.