India’s Deadly Indifference: The Toll of Cross-Border Terrorism in Kashmir

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While the propriety of Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza can be endlessly argued, it has undeniably put the Hamas on the back foot, eroding whatever public support it enjoyed and rendering it highly trepidatious to undertake another terror strike against Israel for a long time to come. Israel could very well end the war at this juncture without any loss of face, if it could pull off a deal with the Hamas leadership to release all the hostages, instead of dogmatically pursuing the illusory objective of destroying the Hamas. Netanyahu must realize that terrorism, like rabies, is a disease that defies to be eradicated. Terrorist acts are symptoms of a much deeper malady that fundamentalism of any kind breeds, nurturing a sadistic mindset in individuals who fall prey to the indoctrination it propones. Terrorists are both offenders as well as victims due to their own convictions. By its very nature therefore, terrorism can only be suppressed, not destroyed, as Netanyahu unrealistically imagines, losing global goodwill in the bargain.

Nevertheless, it must be prudently admitted that the kind of action Israel resorted to in retaliation of terror attack on their soil was absolutely justified. Fundamentalist ideologies dehumanize terrorists, and they understand only the language of force. That is a lesson Indian policy makers are yet to learn. The people at large have come to treat the everyday killing of our soldiers in Kashmir as business as usual, to the smug gratification of the Pak military junta. This is a direct consequence of the complacence of the Indian establishment over the years. We stepped into the millennium after meekly giving into the terrorists’ demands and handing over their imprisoned comrades during the IC-814 hijack. While Operation Parakram after the 2001 parliament attack turned out to be more of a public relations exercise with no tangible objectives achieved in terms of national security, practically no retaliatory action was taken after 26/11 Mumbai attack in 2008. Subsequently, during a spate of attacks during 2015 – 16 on an army unit at Samba, airbase at Pathankot and a brigade headquarters at Uri, only the last one was retaliated to, to some effect. The Balakot air strikes we did in retaliation of the Pulwama massacre, despite being successful, did not deter the terrorists from across the border from continuing with their infiltration into Kashmir and the proxy war that is going on, the recent attack on IAF convoy at Poonch being its latest manifestation.

While we have somewhat dealt with the Chinese threat with military build-up along the northern border, we are still groping in the dark for a way to contain cross-border terrorism from Pakistan. An all-out war being not an option, given the nuclear scenario, the only course open to us is powerful retaliatory strikes that would make it prohibitively expensive for Pakistan to engage in any misadventure against India. Why restrict it to Uri-style land operations? We could stage sneak air and naval attacks on their installations, which are identified and registered in advance, to be targeted on occurrence of a terror attack by them. On ground itself, we could launch such missile attacks and even swift forays by tanks into their border localities to instill fear. These visible measures could be augmented by covert operations that target the terrorist leadership in our neighbouring countries, which demand high-calibre espionage. We do not have the luxury of assuming moral high ground on such matters, with enemies of India lurking all over in our neighbourhood. We need to act overtly and covertly unless we have degenerated to a state of utter insensitivity to treat our soldiers in Kashmir as expendables.

Our first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, is infamously supposed to have declined framing a defence of India doctrine, suggesting that we are a peaceful nation and have no enemies, in unparalleled naivety for the leader of a country with such extensive land and sea borders. We do not know whether any of his successors have changed that stance or we have a defence doctrine yet. International terrorism has now made it imperative that we not only have a robust defence doctrine but one for counterterrorism as well. If we do not have a roadmap to tackle this menace, we will soon be paying more in blood, not just of our soldiers in Kashmir, but of innocent civilians too. Is our national security apparatus up to the job? So far it does not seem they are.

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Col P N krishnan
Col P N krishnan
7 days ago

Perfect sir! That is the way to go! Hope people in power make note of your suggestion.

7 days ago

Well put across! Let us also question the commitment of our civilian caders, like the IAS and judiciary and the legislators as to how much is their contribution for the price our jawans pay in blood? If our democracy has to be protected from its enemies from both within and without- our armed forces are the only answer! Hence, besides the obvious threat along our broders, we see how political parties utter such nonsence that could encourage civil unrest and religious conflict- affecting the majority peace loving people from all across the country. Thus, a robast -Defence and Internal Security… Read more »

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