Sunday, November 13, 2016

The dilemma? To compel or deter

Every now and then, a book appears so well timed that you wonder how the authors managed it. George Perkovich and Toby Dalton’s Not War, Not Peace: Motivating Pakistan to Prevent Cross-Border Terrorism is one of them. The book, which was released in Delhi last night, takes up the theme that has roiled the country for the past ten days — how do we persuade Pakistan to abandon its support to terrorism?
The central theme of the book is that the existence of “survivable” nuclear arsenals by India and Pakistan make any conventional war “suicidal as a means resolve the disputes that bedevil their bilateral relations.”
The authors are associated with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Perkovich is the author of a seminal study on India’s nu­clear weapons capability. The book is a classic US think tank project, a product of rigorous scholarship and analysis, based on scores of interviews co­nducted by the authors in both countries. Its arguments are laid out quite bluntly and the authors say they are not recommending any specific course of action, only laying out a menu which can help India to work out its response. For that reason it must be taken seriously — very, very seriously.
The book has systematically examined the policy and decision-making background and then studied the options individually. So they look at army-centric responses associated with the proactive or “Cold Start” doctrine; the option of air power, which many today claim would be the least escalatory, covert action, and the manner in which nuclear weapons are factored into the equation. Finally, they examine the issue of “non-violent compellence”.
“Compellence” is a peculiar nuclear-era concept which goes beyond deterrence, because deterrence is preventing the adversary from doing something, whereas compellence is a mix of policies, postures and capabilities which seek to push the adversary towards a desired direction, such as, say, abandoning support for terrorists. What the authors do is look at its elements like sanctions, diplomatic isolation, financial punishment and even naval blockades as a means to pushing Pakistan to do the needful. The authors argue that India’s growing clout in world affairs can enable it to undertake a strategy of “non violent compellence”.
We are perhaps detecting eleme­nts of the last strategy in Modi gover­nment’s dealings with Pakistan. The Modi strategy — cornering Pakistan across the world, his addresses to the US Congress, BRICS leaders meeting in Guangzhou, the G20 summit and, indeed, wherever he has gone in the last six months. His refrain has been constant — Pakistan is a rogue state which needs to be isolated.
Modi’s reference to Baloch, Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakhtunistan indicate that playing around with Pakistani faultlines may be part of the strategy.
Parallel to this have been the revival of Indian diplomatic efforts to promote a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) and to push with the need to colar people designated by the Al Qaeda-Taliban sanctions committee.
Perkovich and Dalton have refer­red to the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1373, a Chapter VII resolution banning funding of terrorism and calling on states not to support terrorism. But there are a clutch of other resolutions like 1566 of 2004, also under Chapter VII, calling on states to “find, deny safe haven and bring to justice” all people involved in financing planning or commissioning terrorist acts.
There has been talk of things like naval blockades and scrapping the Indus Waters Treaty. It does not take too much to say that these are not easy options. A blockade minus war goes against international law, and in addition, not workable unless China and the US are on board. As for IWT, denying water is not a feasible option. It also opens up India to similar action by Nepal or China.
Non-violent compellence is hazily understood and applied by Indian policy makers for the past 30 years with indifferent results. The reason for this is the lack of analytical rigour in working out and applying policies in general in the country. India tends towards ad hoc and instinctive approaches. As spelt out by the authors, and as hinted by Modi, a more systematic application could come up with different results. It could involve an offensive on multiple fronts aimed at isolating and punishing Pakistan thr­o­ugh sanctions. People say that sanctions don’t work, but in the case of Iran recently, they certainly did. The issue is the manner in which they are brought about. The world is currently in a funk over the rise of Islamist radicalism; this could be a good opportunity to revisit the issue.
In this context, one of our greatest failings has been in our inability to break what we call the ‘Sino-Pak nexus’. This has been around since the mid-1960s, yet New Delhi has not worked out a strategy through which we could break or at least moderate this nexus. It is not as though the lines of policy to do this are not visible, as have been the opportunities.
September 27, 2016

Why Things Will Likely Be All Quiet on the Western Front

When speaking of the fallout of the Uri attack, many analysts tend to say the military option should be avoided because it may spiral into a nuclear war. But what would have happened if there were no nuclear weapons?
A military confrontation would have been much more likely, but, to go by the experiences of  1965 and 1971, the last set of wars before the arrival of the nuclear era, not much would have been achieved.
People often judge the 1971 war by the outcome of the Bangladesh campaign. Sure, this was a great victory, but let us be clear, it was a battle that you could not have lost considering that the Pakistani army in East Pakistan was surrounded by Indian forces, cut off from its western half, blockaded by the sea and air and, most importantly, operating amidst a hostile population.
In the west, however, the story was different and the outcome of operations there give us a picture which has some relevance today.
Strategically, Indian forces in the west were told to maintain an “offensive-defensive” posture which meant that while they were essentially in a defensive mode, they were free to launch offensives to prevent Pakistani ingresses into Indian territory. So, some offensives were, indeed,  undertaken.
Just how tough cross-LoC operations can be is evident from how the 19 Infantry Division fared in the Tangdhar and Uri sectors, the major sources of infiltration today. Of the three operations launched, only one succeeded – which was the capture of Ghasala top and Ring Contour, adjacent to the LoC, largely due to the element of surprise, since the operation was launched on the night the war began on December 3. Two other operations in the Uri sector Op Hasti and Shikar failed.
How difficult the operations were is evident from Pakistan’s daring effort  to capture Poonch in the same war. Despite a well formulated and supported plan, Pakistani forces were able to make only limited headway into Indian territory and were eventually thrown out. And in turn, a strong Indian effort to capture Daruchhian, across the Poonch river, also failed.
It is significant to note that in all these operations, the action was just about kilometres – anywhere between 0 and 5 – beyond the ceasefire line. Deeper thrusts would have involved even more time and casualties. In the effort to capture Daruchhian, for example, India lost five officers, two JCOs and 18 jawans, with another two officers, two JCOs and 71 ORs missing, with many being presumed dead in just two days of fighting.
Professional competence naturally plays its own role in war. Sadly, it was not very evident in the western sector. We lost Chamb because of the commander’s obsession with launching an offensive which came undone.
India’s grand offensive in Shakargarh faltered because of an indifferent leadership’s “overcautious approach”; it was not the best place to launch an operation because it was strongly defended and the Indians knew it. Needless say, the attacks themselves were carried out with enormous grit and bravery and the performance of some individual battalions was outstanding.
In the Punjab sector both sides made minor gains, mainly in enclaves that jutted into the other’s borders. In Rajasthan, a disaster was averted when the Pakistani armoured force blundered into Longewala and was destroyed by the Indian Air Force.  Had this not happened, a Pakistan force would have caught a planned Indian offensive to Rahim Yar Khan napping.  Thereafter, despite prodding, the divisional commander could not take advantage of the Pakistani disaster in Longewala and destroy his forces.
In 1965, the then western army commander had termed the Indian performance as  “a sickening repetition of command failures leading the sacrifice of a series of cheap victories.” The performance in 1971, in the west, was perhaps no different. It was, however, made up by the spectacular victory in the east in a battle which, given the advantages India had, it could not possibly have lost.
The point is not to retail military history, but to ask whether the situation is any different today. Yes, of course it is: India and Pakistan have larger armies and India has a greater edge in airpower and the navy. But barring the existence of nuclear weapons, nothing much has changed.
The India-Pakistan border is, perhaps, the most heavily defended one in the world. Anticipating attacks, Pakistan has created a vast network of bunkers along the LoC and ditches, canals and earthworks in the Punjab border. The Rajasthan border may offer some area of ingress, but till you reach the Indus, there is little or nothing of value.
India and Pakistan have what can be termed as “effective parity” in what is our western front, if you take into account the fact that Pakistani forces would be on the defence and operate on interior lines.
India simply lacks the numbers and equipment to breach Pakistani defences in short order. Over time, it could be done, but that is what is not available in the subcontinental dynamics. Now that we are nuclear, you can be sure that the world community, i.e. the P-5 of the UN, will jump in even faster to insist on a ceasefire.
No change in military balance
As  Pervez Musharraf put it with a touch of bluster to the Christian Science Monitor in September 2002 after the threat of war had passed “… my military judgment was that they [Indians] would not attack us… It was based on the deterrence of our conventional forces. The force levels that we maintain, in the army, navy, air force is of a level which deters aggression. Militarily… there is a certain ratio required for an offensive force to succeed. The ratios that we maintain are far above that — far above what a defensive force requires to defend itself….”
There is no reason to believe that position has changed. Indeed, to go by reports of ammunition shortage, lack of artillery modernisation, or adequacy of air defence systems, things may have got worse since the time of Operation Parakram. New Delhi cannot blame anyone else but itself for its predicament. Despite advice to the contrary from blue ribbon panels and even the parliamentary standing committee on defence, India’s military management has been poor. Far from modernising rapidly, adding capacities like air assault divisions or marines which can alter the conventional military balance in its favour, it dithers and simply adds numbers to its already bloated army.
As to professional competence, it is difficult to measure in situations short of war. But if the past is a guide you can be sure that while the performance of battalions will be superb and you will have great feats of bravery, generalship will be indifferent. As patriots, we can say that Indian generals will be  more competent than Pakistani ones but that may not be saying much. Good generalship rests on quality military education,  good staff work, well war-gamed plans, a regular cycle of exercises and  drilled forces, contemporary equipment and of course, to go by Napoleon, a dash of luck. The system of promotion by seniority and the rapidity with which officers move from the rank of brigadier/ major general to divisional commander, corps commander and army commander ensures that they do not stick around long enough in a job to hone their skills.
Beyond generalship today, you would need the ability to integrate your air, land and sea operations, as well as fuse the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data with precision long-range weaponry. Both India and Pakistan are roughly equal here. They have unintegrated forces, but since the chief of the Pakistan army is also the boss of Pakistan, the army has no problem in enforcing its pre-eminence in their system.
So we are in the uncomfortable position of facing effective conventional parity with Pakistan. This imposed its own logic in the case of the US and the erstwhile Soviet Union, encouraging them towards d├ętente. Unfortunately for us, our predicament is more complicated because we face what it called a revisionist power, which dangerously uses  its nuclear capability as a shield behind which to fight what it calls a “sub-conventional” war against India based on the fallacious belief that it was perfidiously denied Jammu & Kashmir during the partition.
The Wire September 26, 2016

Modi and the tale of two terror speeches

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finally revealed his response to the Uri attack.Over-the-top coverage in the Indian media wanted to push Modi for a military strike on Pakistan, and his own party-men were cheering on the process.
Yet, when the Prime Minister spoke at a meeting of the BJP’s national council in Kozhikode in Kerala it was in calculated, if tough tones, but clearly shelving military options and instead challenging Pakistan to a duel on removing poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, maternal deaths and infant mortality.

Over-the-top coverage in the Indian media urged Modi to push for a military strike on Pakistan, however Modi must concentrate on India's economic transformation
Over-the-top coverage in the Indian media urged Modi to push for a military strike on Pakistan, however Modi must concentrate on India's economic transformation

The Modi line emphasises strategic restraint on the military sphere, while stepping up the diplomatic pressure, and possibly covert operations, to isolate and sanction Pakistan.
Clearly, the Prime Minister insists on maintaining focus on India’s economic transformation, a project that would be derailed were India to get involved in any military adventure.
More importantly, Modi appears to recognise the point being made by several analysts, that it is strategic restraint that has brought India to the front rank of economic powers, where Pakistan has been brought to its knees by the blow-back from its long support for terrorism.
On the other hand, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech to the UN General Assembly in New York last Wednesday, was clearly a wasted opportunity.
It was the usual tirade criticising India on Kashmir, and a grab bag of other issues -claiming victimhood on the issue of terrorism, demanding equal rights with India on the issue of membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group and so on.
On Friday, in a stop-over at London on his way back, Sharif took another tack, arguing that the Uri attack was the consequence of the Indian “atrocities” in Kashmir, implying that the attackers were local residents, rather than Pakistani nationals.
Modi’ speech was a skillful mix of verbal aggression and restraint.
He spoke after a publicised meeting with the three Service chiefs, and in a significant gesture, made it a point to separate the people of Pakistan from its government, saying that the people of the country would themselves turn against their government to fight terrorism.
He pointedly referred to Pakistan’s inability to hold on to its eastern wing, and the dissidence it faces in POK, Gilgit, Balochistan, Pakhtunistan and Sindh, and said that Kashmir was being used to distract them from their real problems.
Those observing Sharif’s performance say that his heart was not in it; that he was reading from a prepared text is not unusual, but his body-language seemed to suggest that he was not quite in form.
When Sharif came to power in 2013, there were expectations that he would reach out to India as a means of fulfilling his election promises which were mainly on the need to promote economic growth. 
He was also expected to keep the Pakistan Army at length, considering his own experience at the hands of his erstwhile Army chief Pervez Musharraf in 1999. 

However, the army pre-empted him by getting Tahir ul Qadri and Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf to launch agitations against him and paralyse the functioning of his government.
More recently, the issue of his illegal assets has come up through the Panama revelations.
As of now, it appears that the PML (N) is in no shape to take on anyone. As a result his ambitious economic agenda, including an opening up to India have stalled, though Pakistan’s economy is doing well and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor scheme have given the country hope.

Attacks such as the ones in Pathankot and Uri have been specifically designed to ensure that he does not stray from the path the army has laid out for him.
This path has no room for an Indian outreach. The choices before Sharif are stark. He can quietly retire from the scene in 2018 when the general elections are due, or adjust his policies to align themselves to those of the Pakistan Army.
As for Modi, he has clearly indicated that he is in it for the long run.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addresses the 71st session of United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addresses the 71st session of United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York

By refusing to be provoked, either by Pakistan, or his own bhakts, he has displayed statesmanship.
No doubt, somewhere in the system, there will be plans to get back at the Pakistan Army’s role in the Uri incident.
But the bottom-line Indian response is that we will not be distracted by skirmishes- our aim is to win the war.
And that war is not to be fought with guns and bombs, but as Modi indicated, infrastructure and industry, employment and social change.
As for elections in 2019, Modi intends to win them.
Mail Today September 25, 2016

It’s time to beat Pakistan at its own game – but India must keep its own hands clean

For the present, then, the government seems to have decided to undertake only non-military action against Pakistan. Speaking on behalf of the government which was involved in extensive consultations throughout Monday, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu said that the United Nations should take up the issue and that the time had come for the world body to declare Pakistan a terrorist state.
Of course, there is some rhetoric here since designating specific countries as “state sponsors” of terrorism is a US national policy, not something that other countries follow or accept. The UN only designates entities and individuals, as it has done in the case of Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Muhammad Sayeed.

Fourth-generation warfare

By now it should be clear that dealing with Pakistani attacks like the one in Uri will not be a simple task. Military options are attractive, but very dangerous because of the fear that they could a) escalate to nuclear war if our strikes hit the Pakistani heartland of Punjab, or b) be insufficient to influence Pakistan to shut down its jihad machine if they are confined to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. At the end of the day, we need to understand that the task on hand is neither to defeat Pakistan nor embrace it – but to manage it in a manner that it does not derail our primary national goal – transforming the economic life of the country and its hundreds of millions of poor people.
This is where hybrid warfare comes in. Essentially it means the blending of conventional warfare with irregular warfare. But its more interesting variants include cyber warfare, lawfare and diplomatic warfare. Another term for it is fourth-generation warfare.


Pakistan has been a master of conventional hybrid warfare, using allegedly non-state actors to torment India. Perhaps the time has come to turn the tables by launching our version of it, which will include a mix of covert action, cyber war, diplomacy and lawfare. The problem in a lot of this is that you cannot own up to covert or cyber warfare, and so there is no way to satisfy the psychological need of our populace for some kind of revenge against Pakistan. Lawfare and diplomatic warfare, of course can be open.

Widen faultlines

For instance, take covert warfare. Pakistan is riven by so many fault-lines that it is difficult to count them. Widening some of them will not be too difficult a task. Operating just as the Inter-Services Intelligence has done – from the Saudi peninsula – India will not even need Indian nationals to do the job, people can be lured for the lucre.
Another dimension of this that has been employed in the past is to fund key Pakistani politicians, again through a variety of channels in the UK or Dubai. Here again, the aim is not to plant bombs or be involved in terrorist acts, but to create a climate of opinion which will encourage Pakistan to shut down its terror machine.
Cyber war does not require much elucidation. Pakistan is not too wired up a country, but even then, it has vulnerabilities which can be exploited in a manner that does not leave any Indian fingerprints.

By the rule book

Lawfare is a bit complicated.
The US, for example, has put China on the backfoot by pressing against its maritime claims in South-East Asia through the use of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas. The US Navy patrols close to China and through its claim in the South China Sea, claiming that it is upholding the UN convention, something it encourages everyone to do.
India can launch a lawfare offensive against Pakistan by focusing on its record on human rights and terrorism by identifying not just the perpetrators, but their supporters which could mean banks where their money is kept, airlines that fly them and so on. It could use the UN Security Council Resolution 1373 of 2001 which calls on all states to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts, criminalise collection of funds by their nationals and in their territory. Further, it calls on states to refrain from support “to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts” and take steps “to prevent the commission of terrorist acts”, “deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support or commit terrorist acts or provide safe havens.”
Just like the judicial process, lawfare is probably tedious and slow, but it can also be effective if prosecuted with determination and zeal. There is a lot in UN Security Council Resolution 1373 that can make life difficult for many Pakistanis. Unlike other resolutions, 1373 is under Chapter VII which makes its recommendations mandatory.
The ongoing UN General Assembly session will be a good place to launch that offensive. In its own way, the Modi government has been moving in that direction in the past year or so when it used every platform, including the G-20 and ASEAN, to corral Pakistan on account of terrorism.
But there is an important caveat in all this. A weapon, no matter if it is a fourth-generation warfare one, is often a double-edged sword. If India seeks to push Pakistan in a certain direction using international statutes relating to human rights and terrorism, it needs to ensure that its own hands are clean. It must also be ready to defend itself against a Pakistani riposte which may seek to widen our fault-lines which, though not as numerous as those of Pakistan, unfortunately do exist. September 21, 2016

Targeting a Fractured Pakistan: Why Covert Ops Are a Bad Idea

The most important thing about launching covert operations across the border in Pakistan is figuring out what our aims and objectives are. Are they to destabilise and dismember Pakistan? Or merely to pressure Islamabad to abandon its use of jihadi proxies to attack India.
As far as Pakistan is concerned, they already assume that India carries out a range of covert ops, ranging from support to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the Baloch separatists and the MQM in Karachi.

Covert Ops Should Have Well-Defined Goals

When we speak of covert, we should mean precisely that — operations and actions which India can plausibly deny that it is carrying out. So we are not talking of cross-border military strikes by commandos and other kinetic strikes. Neither are we talking about mere public statements supporting this or that cause, but could involve the funding, arming and training of groups, either directly or indirectly to act against terrorists and their supporters in Pakistan.
Pakistan has many religious and societal fractures, so accentuating them is not likely to be difficult, but we must be clear about our aims. To echo General Colin Powell’s warning to George W Bush on Iraq, “If you break it, you own it.” This common phrase, often seen in shops in the US, has come back to haunt the United States.

Targeting Terror Havens

Likewise a Pakistan, broken by an Indian covert campaign will, in the ultimate analysis, be India’s headache, if not responsibility. Whatever we do must be clearly thought through, else we may be condemned to repeat our Sri Lankan experience.
Covert ops with a view of pressuring Pakistan to ease off on supporting terrorists may require a more sophisticated and subtle approach, involving targeted assassination of terrorist leaders, as well as their support structure in the form of financiers, bankers, friends and well-wishers, as well as military officers who handle them.
The idea is, to turn the issue inside out, and to terrorise the machine that supports the terrorists.

Do We Have the Expertise?

Clearly, this is not something that can be done overnight and is certainly not easy. It will require years of patiently building up a network of agents to do the needful. If India is to be seen as a principled state, it cannot be seen to be undertaking such actions.
So, it may require a double-game of convincing the agents that they are working for another power — Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia or the Americans. Back in the 1950s, the CIA played such a game in India and created confusion in the Communist movement by injecting an agent, allegedly sent by Beijing, to mislead the Indian communists.
False flag operations require skill and dedication and a culture which we have not quite cultivated. Unfortunately for our chest-thumping politicians, these are also operations for which they can claim credit. That would be a strict no-no.
Indian policy appears to be on the cusp right now. After decades of trying to bring Pakistan around through talks, India has recently raised the spectre of separatism in Pakistan by calling out Islamabad’s record on human rights and democracy in Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan.
In both cases, there is no dearth of activists who will be willing to do harm to the Pakistani state, though in many instances the activists make themselves out to be more important than they are.

Systematic Campaign

The question is how we should use them. Arming and training them would be a risky option, as we learnt from our cost in Sri Lanka. But we can use them in a systematic and sustained campaign focusing on the denial of human rights and democracy in these regions. Such a campaign would need to be closely coordinated by the Ministry of External Affairs to bring pressure in critical UN and other international organisation meetings as well.
(Photo: iStock/ Altered by The Quint)
(Photo: iStock/ Altered by The Quint)

Building Pressure on Islamabad

A diplomatic campaign to damage Pakistan’s reputation across the board can be used to threaten harm to the country’s fragile economy as well. Earlier this year Pakistan completed its sixth bailout programme in its history. The $6.4 billion programme that began in 2013, saw Pakistan getting as many as 16 waivers before it ended.
Pakistan has been kept afloat time and again through the munificence of the US and the Gulf Sheikhs. Working with and through like-minded countries India can raise the costs for Pakistan with a view of pushing it to modify its behaviour.
The bottom line for any campaign to push Pakistan to a desired direction cannot be done by India alone. It requires some hard-nosed diplomacy with Pakistan’s allies like the US and China. If the issue of  Pakistan is so important for us, the government should be willing to undertake some give and take with these countries to build pressure on Islamabad.

Upping the Ante

There is little point hoping that this will happen because our cause is just; in the real world things don’t happen that way. Don’t forget that countries like China and US, somewhat indirectly, were willing to support the genocidal Pol Pot regime so as to corner Vietnam in the 1980s.
In the past year, the Modi government has already stepped up the pressure to isolate and sanction Pakistan across the world. Modi and his ministers have lost no opportunity — summits in the US, meetings with world leaders, G20 and ASEAN summits — to raise the issue of “certain countries” backing terrorism. Now, India is likely to raise the issue in the UN General Assembly as well.
The Quint  September 22, 2016

Uri Attack: There Are No Military Options That Will Give India the Outcome It Wants

India does not have too many good options in responding to the militant raid that killed 17 Indian army personnel, perhaps the largest number ever for a single day of the Kashmiri insurgency that began in 1990.
Sure, you can break down the responses and see what works. First the military – an army raid across the Line of Control, an army incursion across the international border with Pakistan, a naval blockade of Karachi, an air strike on the Jaish headquarters in Bahawalpur, an air strike on camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Second, the diplomatic –  a UN Security Council condemnation and sanctions, sanctions by friendly countries like the US, Japan, UK and Germany, and a few Gulf countries. All of the above have been thought about and have not got us anywhere.
At the end of the day, India has to ensure that the options it exercises – particularly the military ones – do not leave it worse off than before in terms of casualties and costs.
Proponents of the military strategy must also be aware of the fact that the Indian armed forces are not in particularly good shape for an all out war with Pakistan. The military is short of vital equipment like artillery and air-defence systems, as well as key ammunition. The air force is also not in particularly great form given the steady attrition it has faced without getting adequate replacements.
For a government which came to power promising a change in the allegedly weak-kneed policies of the past, there are  powerful psychological and political compulsions at play here. The BJP-led regime demonstrated what it meant by undertaking a campaign of disproportionate bombardment of the international border in Jammu in early 2014. After the Pathankot attack, it took on a high-decibel diplomatic campaign to isolate and sanction Islamabad and then, it threatened Pakistan that it would expand its political support to separatists in Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan.
The violent mass protest in Kashmir upended a lot of calculations. But New Delhi’s poor handling of the events, especially by denigrating the protests as being inspired by and paid for by Pakistan only served to aid the Pakistani design. The attack in Uri is now a Pakistani riposte, aimed as much at New Delhi as at the disaffected Kashmiri. To New Delhi, the message is that when push comes to shove, Islamabad has the wherewithal to do things, while the signal to the Kashmiris is that Pakistan remains a tried and tested ally in their struggle. Of course, you can be sure that the long-suffering Kashmiris will not be particularly inspired by the Uri attack, knowing that they are the ones who will suffer the consequences, not the Pakistanis.

The downside of force
The danger of army action across the international border is that if it is too successful, it could trigger a nuclear war. And action limited to PoK presents military difficulties because of the terrain, and also  may not be sufficient to compel the Pakistanis to shut down their jihad factory.
Air strikes are a tempting option; however, India lacks the intelligence and surveillance capabilities that will ensure the targets struck are actually militant camps. The possibility of collateral deaths is high and could result in a PR setback for India should a large number of women and children be killed.
Precision strikes are a myth of sorts and the kind of strikes that Israel and the US have launched, with vastly superior intelligence and targeting capabilities, have resulted in a large number of civilian deaths which have not had the effect of cowing down the populace, either in Gaza or Afghanistan.
Air strikes in the Pakistani heartland such as Muridke or Bahawalpur will be contested by the Pakistan Air Force and will almost certainly trigger a response whose consequences cannot be easily determined.
Another possibility is a large-scale covert campaign targeting Pakistani terrorists and their facilities. But as is well known, India lacks the wherewithal and would require several years of preparation to run such operations. Nevertheless, Pakistan believes that India is now on the path towards stepping up covert activities in Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan and it may be useful to keep on deepening the Pakistani neuroses here as a bargaining chip to get it to shut down its jihadi shop. Modi may actually be on the right track here, as long as he can finesse it.
Actually, the only way to deal with the dilemma confronting the country is to persist in a combination of policies.
First, harden the defensive system against infiltration and perimeter security in camps. In Pathankot and again in Uri, we have seen the perimeter breached too easily.
Second, strengthen covert capabilities in Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan, not with the view of hiving them off Pakistan, but for the purpose of exerting pressure on the Pakistan military brass in Rawalpindi.
Third, step up the diplomatic offensive against Pakistan, and put serious pressure on countries like the US and its allies as well as institutions like the IMF to act against Islamabad. UN resolution 1373 passed in the wake of 9/11 has been adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and India should lobby with UN members for its application to Pakistan since it obligates states “to prevent the commission of terrorist acts” as well as to “deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support or commit terrorist acts, or provide safe havens.” Of course, we need to understand that given the respective compulsions of states like the US and China, none of these diplomatic steps will  yield results.
The eventual goal has to be for New Delhi to bilaterally bring Islamabad around to rejecting the instrument of terrorism. This is not an impossible goal as was evident in the Vajpayee and Manmohan eras. The ceasefire of 2003 and the subsequent back channel discussions led to a sharp reduction of infiltration and violence in the Kashmir Valley. Indeed, we also came close to working out a modus vivendi in Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan during this period.
Some of the suggestions above can be seen in the Modi approach to Pakistan. But there is too much incoherence and rhetoric, which tends to confuse both adversaries and citizens. Modi needs to get away from using Jammu and Kashmir as part of his domestic electioneering and treat the issue with the seriousness it deserves.
The Wire September 19, 2016