Syed Haider A. Gardezi
At this point in time, India is facing a huge challenge in the form of multiple insurgencies. Most of these movements are separatist in nature, demanding independence from the Indian Union. There is a different historical and political context to all of these movements, however, some of these movements including that of Kashmir, began shortly after the British implemented the partition plan in 1947. These separatist movements also have deep roots in discriminatory attitude of upper caste Hindus towards, other castes, ethnicities and religious minorities.
The whole Indian Union is based on a loosely articulated Indian Nationalism ideology, giving it an undertone of false secularism and equality of all. When in reality, mob lynching, communal violence instigated by Hindu terrorists and extremists are common place in India. Moreover, the fascist Hindu extremists are sold the fairy tale idea of Akhand Bharat (United India) and how Hindus must never accept Pakistan as it belongs to the Hindus only and it must be integrated with India. Whereas the history tells us something quite the opposite, that India was never united, not under Asoka, not under the Mughals, and even today. Indian subcontinent was divided into small princely states and kingdoms throughout the history. This is because India does not belong to any one religion, it belongs to a diverse group of people, with different religions and ethnicities.
Indian politicians have carefully found a solution consolidate their authority and to keep the limelight away from real issues like education, poverty, unemployment etc, by creating rhetoric of hate against Pakistan and religious minorities in the countries. This allows them to gain popularity, among the masses, by externalizing the threat to either Pakistan, or to their sacred Hindu faith.
Pakistan is a point of discussion and debate in every Indian election, however, in Pakistani political campaigns, India is not even discussed, or whenever it is discussed it is due to any contemporary escalation of hostilities between the two countries.
The hostilities between the two countries therefore have existed since the Independence of both states. Both countries have fought three conventional wars, and many minor or limited conflicts ever since. Pakistan although did lose a war in in 1971, however, all war historians including the Indians believe that facts on the ground dictate that Pakistan has never been defeated in the Eastern theatre, i.e. the border with India. Here Pakistan has successfully thwarted Indian aggression every single time.
However, the strategic landscape of south Asia changed drastically, when India tested the first nuclear weapon, the in 1974, by illegally, enriching uranium acquired from a Canadian reactor, which under the international law was a serious offence. This test tilted the balance of power towards India and Pakistani strategic thinkers were worried. However, this forced Pakistan to get a nuclear bomb of its own, and the 1998 tests by Pakistan restored this strategic balance.
India there onwards always maintained ambiguity, as to what would be the limit to consider a limited, or conventional or strategic option against Pakistan. Although Pakistan has always maintained readiness at all levels, however when the enemy might strike was a vague idea.
Recently, after the Pulwama attacks, India made a huge blunder, which exposed this ambiguity. India sent in a strike package of 12 fighter aircrafts, with only 4 across LoC, for a few seconds to release payload and disengage, before Pakistan’s Air defense shreds them to pieces. Having failed at their mission, as all open source satellite images and international media claims there was no damage to the target site, India had failed to achieve whatever military objectives it wanted to achieve. The next day defined the future of India Pakistan military conflict.
The Pakistani Army sent in a strike Package of mirage aircraft, that bombed six target locations including Brigade HQs and Indian Army depots, as a response to the aggression previous night. Pakistan responded to India in its own coin. This aggression of India exposed Indian ambiguity when it came to their military option and Pakistan gave a clear message that we remain undeterred by any Indian misadventure.
We can look at the pros and cons as to how PM Modi capitalized on the failed surgical strikes politically, however, in terms of military and strategic implications, Indian military and Airforce have lost the bluff and ambiguity, and are now clear that in case of any misadventure Pakistan is willing to not only effectively respond but to also, dominate the escalation ladder.
It has also shown the Indians that Pakistan now has the political and military will to respond to any Indian misadventure. Whereas India has does not have the political vision and will to dominate the escalation ladder. This exposure has ever emboldened the Pakistani military and strategic planners, as now in terms or military deterrence on tactical, conventional and strategic level, India has failed to assert itself as a dominant.
Where Mr. Modi, the self -proclaimed savior of Hinduism and India has achieved his personal goals by the failed surgical strikes, he has put the Indian Forces in a humiliating and awkward position as now they will have to re-think their stance and position in the conflict dynamic with Pakistan.
The Author is a Media and Defense Analyst. He tweets @haiderwrites