Is it time for India to teach Pakistan a lesson? – YES
The construct of ‘retaliatory action’ indicates revenge — inflicting injury on the adversary to emotionally sublimate oneself. Act we must, but in a rational rather than emotional mode. The response should be designed and calibrated to achieve specific objectives to further India’s national interests.
First, we need to have a realistic net assessment of Pakistan as a state and its mindset on India, its capabilities and intentions and pattern of its engagement with us.
In the wake of empirical experience, we need to amend our policy of appeasement and accommodation. Einstein’s definition that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results next time, holds out a lesson for India. Our confused and inconsistent policy based on faulty assumptions needs to be substituted by an engagement package that is effective, comprehensive and sustainable.
Next, the gruesome act of barbarism displayed by the beheading of an Indian soldier followed by total denial and blustering, though reprehensible, is neither the first of its kind, nor unexpected from Pakistan. What is unacceptable is that despite many such incidents in the past, India did not press into action a well-thought-out response within hours of the incident; not as a retaliatory measure but to make tactical deterrence credible. Ensuring tactical deterrence and preventing any border violation is the responsibility of local commanders.
After policy guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures are laid down, local decision-making and execution should be left to the local commanders. Pakistan should be informed that our response will be in real time, decisive and in some specified situations, surgical. The deterrence content of our actions should be enhanced through improved equipment and technological support. Given the clarity of instructions, our troops are capable of delivering the impossible. A delayed, hesitant and confused response not only conveys a wrong message to our adversaries, but demoralises our own forces and dents the national will.
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The Prime Minister’s statement that there would be no more “business as usual” and the Defence Minister terming the incident as a ‘turning point’ send a strong message. Unfortunately though, in the past too, much braver assertions were made and forgotten. Pakistanis laugh it off as a bluster meant for domestic consumption. We need to walk the talk — specify to Pakistan our requirement, in tangible and verifiable terms, and make future engagements conditional to it. We have a whole positive and negative list of do-ables that Pakistan can take to prove its good intentions.
Handing over of over two dozen Indian fugitives, such as Dawood Ibrahim, action against perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage, stopping trans-border infiltration of terrorists and arms, closing over 45 terrorist camps and stopping the printing and exporting of counterfeit Indian currency are just an illustrative list of what Pakistan should do.