Syed Haider A. Gardezi
A military, comprising of more than a million troops and officers. An economy worth trillions. A bureaucracy that was intact, up and running as the British left the subcontinent, an intelligence agency with the mandate to manage international operations with billions rupees in unregulated, unaccounted budget. All of these miserably failed to dominate the international media landscape, and the escalation ladder with Pakistan. This was observed earlier this year when in February India failed to conduct air strikes in Pakistan, but as a retaliation Pakistan conducted efficient and successful counter strikes at six Indian Army locations, downing two of their fighter jets, including a mig-21 bison and an Su-30MKI, while capturing one of the downed pilots.
On the other hand, a military less than half its size. An economy that is recovering from bad economic policies of previous governments. A bureaucracy that was in shambles when Pakistan gained independence, an intelligence agency with limited resources, effectively communicated its narrative to the international media, and professionally dominated the escalation ladder.
India cannot fathom the fact that a much smaller forces in terms of size, which is also under great duress due to malicious diplomatic campaign of India, is able to challenge India, while effectively countering Indian aggression across all theatres of modern warfare.
In order to understand this hostility, we need to understand the end game of this whole conflict. What does India aim to achieve? Basically, the contemporary political leadership of India, has been hijacked by a group of radical extremists, belonging to the Bharti Janta Party (BJP) which explicitly draws inspiration from the extremist ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). These extremists believe that the Indian subcontinent belongs to Hindus alone, and that no other religious group may co-exist, with equal rights. They have a complete disregard of human rights, religious freedom and right to life of minorities and lower Hindu castes.
The India of today, is witnessing the decay of the society with increasing communal violence. This has lasting effects not only on the internal Indian society, but is also affecting its relations with its neighbors. India and Pakistan have been hostile to each other since independence in 1947, however, the recent hostilities are directly caused by Indian aggressive and hostile narrative towards Pakistan. There are many factors that are contributing towards this aggressive policy, however, the Hindu extremism ideology is the driving force of this conflict.
Pakistani military planners were cautious, smart and even lucky to an extent that they saw this coming. They had successfully predicted the rise of an ultra-nationalist extremist party in India, although this is not the first time that BJP has been in power but Pakistan was successful in identifying that under Prime Minister Modi, India will have extra hostile posturing towards Pakistan. India being Pakistan’s primary threat, remained at the priority of military planning and strategy. Hence Pakistan was well prepared whenever tried any misadventure. This is evident from the humiliating defeat of India during attempted surgical strike in 2016, and now in February 2019 and the escalation that followed. Pakistan not only dominated India in land, sea, and air theatres of war, but also on the information front, where Indian narrative was whitewashed by the dominant Pakistani narrative.
Recently the LoC is experiencing heightened tensions as Indian military once again as a tool of political ambitions of Modi, is resorting to ceasefire violations. These ceasefire violations are even more deadly as they are directed at innocent civilians. This utter disregard of civilian life reflects poorly on an already poor image of the Indian Army that has carried out gross human rights violations in India especially in Indian occupied Kashmir, Assam and Punjab. Now when civilians are killed on the Pakistani side, as a result of Indian shelling it exposes the poor standard of professionalism that is prevalent in Indian Army. It also shows the desperation of Indian Army as it is not able to effectively tackle the Pakistani military hence it has resorted to targeting soft targets. To blackmail Pakistan in to a ceasefire.
The Indian media is busy broadcasting ultra-nationalistic programming aimed at indoctrinating the masses with a fake sense of invincibility of the Indian Army. Any military planner, in his right mind will tell you that no military in the world is invincible. Not even the mighty U.S. military is invincible, better yet the Indian and Pakistani military. In war, you take hits, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. Anyone who claims their military is invincible is either delusional or propagandist, or both. With that said, if we examine the facts on ground Pakistani military has had the upper hand recently in the escalation as it has effectively dominated the escalation ladder and countered all Indian aggressions effectively.
India as of today is running out of options, it cannot afford a war at such a critical point in time, when the Indian economy has taken a hit, and growth rate is shrinking. However, the escalation suits India as it distracts the masses from the topics of relevance like poverty, education, law and order and unemployment. Hence Modi government has externalized the threat to divert attention and cover up for its incompetence, while furthering its hegemonic agenda.
The author is Media and Defence Analyst. He tweets @haiderwrites