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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

synergise-strategies against pakistan By Manpreet Sethi, Sep 28, 2016, INDIA-PAK FACE-OFF Pakistan has been successfully playing the game of psychological salami slicing with India and the world for many decades now. It is like the proverbial child who has been told not to go into the sea, but who takes relatively small steps in the direction that do not singularly amount to disobedience. So he goes to the edge of the water and stops. After a while, he wiggles his toes in the water. Then, he puts one foot in. In time, he sits down with two legs splashing in the water – technically not in the sea, but exhibiting defiance in every action. This has been the Pakistani game with terrorism too – each individual attack being made to pass as insufficient cause for casus belli (an act justifying war). Unfortunately for Pakistan though, India and the world are now beginning to feel the collective weight of its actions. In the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the army camp in Uri, the world opinion is firmly on the Indian side. For a long time, India was the lone victim and sufferer. No longer so. Afghanistan Vice President Sarwer Danesh minced no words at the UN General Assembly on Sept 22 when he pointed out that Pakistan was waging an ‘undeclared war’ on his country, given its involvement in training, equipping and financing the Taliban and the Haqqani network. In the US too, a bill has been moved in the Congress to designate Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism. Indeed, many other major powers too are united in their criticism of Pakistan and have their sympathies for India. However, while the actions of the other members of the international community are helpful in mounting pressure on Pakistan, there is little doubt that the search for a solution to the problems of terrorism supported, financed and encouraged from the deep state of Pakistan will have to be led by India. It will certainly need concerted actions by other nations and fortunately, India has their ear today. But New Delhi will have to think through its options and put a synergistic strategy in place getting others to play their part. In fact, such an approach will have to ensure three outcomes – one, it should have the necessary optics to satisfy the domestic clamour for imposing a cost on Pakistan military. Secondly, the punishment imposed on Pakistan should be of a kind that brings back minimum costs for India. Thirdly, it should scare/motivate Pakistan decision makers to change their policy of support to terrorism. This is a tall order for any one action, whether military or non-military, offensive or defensive. Hence, the need for a synergy amongst strategies of many hues and levels to complement each other to attain these objectives. Some of this is already evident. At one level, India has already begun enhancing defensive measures to minimise infiltration across borders and into its military establishments. However, defensive measures can never be enough when the adversary has sufficient cannon fodder available at such a low cost. Good defences must be married with the deterrence offered by military preparedness to ensure availability of strike options at short notice. The ongoing exercise by the Western Air Command fits into this scheme. At the third level, diplomatic wheels are turning at the UN and in other capitals to seek coordinated action to shame and isolate actors of Pakistan establishment who are behind such provocations. Finally, in yet another dimension, India is finding ways of compellence through the few leverages it has over Pakistan. Calibrated pressure It is in this context that moves to impose calibrated pressure through certain actions on the bilateral Indus Water treaty have been announced. While all steps that India proposes to take as part of this last strategy are within its legal rights under the treaty, New Delhi will have to play this card carefully. Correct communication will have to be the key to undertake effective perception management on an issue as emotive as water. This message is important lest the Pakistan military uses the Indian action to drum up further support for itself pointing fingers to an ‘unreasonable and inhumane’ India. Even without any Indian action, the military manages well to keep itself in power by conjuring phantoms of India. To let them mislead their masses by magnifying an Indian threat would only go to further the cause of the Pakistan military, not punish it. As is evident from the many moves India is making, there is no reason to believe that the country has no options but to take terrorism in its stride. There are several good responses -- military and non-military -- that can be used to punish the hand that feeds the terrorist. But it must be realised that not many of the sensible options can yield quick results or be high profile enough to satisfy the immediate clamour for vengeance. Superior military capability of India is not in doubt. Neither is India deterred by Pakistan’s projection of an easy use of nuclear weapons. However, it is in India’s interest to try using all tools that can limit collateral damage on both sides of the border. In this moment of emotional highs, let’s not lose sight of the big picture. Pakistan is in a rather uncomfortable situation today. India, on the contrary, owing to its economic and demographic potential, political openness and cultural diversity, hard and soft power, and restraint and responsible behaviour, has strategic partnerships with all major countries of the world. These attributes bring tremendous clout and leverages. Let’s use them intelligently to craft a multi-pronged strategy to manage a country whose national pastime is India baiting.

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