It’s clear that despite the Pathankot attack about nine months ago, the country’s politico-military leadership went about doing business as usual with Pakistan. And it emboldened the Islamic State.
Brave statements were made: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said it was the last time that these Pakistani terrorists had entered the country; some said the borders would be made impregnable. The Prime Minister, on his part, is reported to have drawn red lines in India’s relations with Pakistan.
Well, Pakistan has crossed the red line again, and its military, as usual, has denied that its errand boys had done the Uri job. Even as New Delhi failed to carry out a retaliatory strike in the last 24 hours, all weather BJP intellectuals who love to talk about everything from the price rise to national security, have gone into an overdrive.
The famous one among these intellectuals, Ram Madhav, has said the era of ‘strategic restraint’ is over and there will be a complete jaw-for-tooth approach. While the meaning of strategic restraint may be known to Madhav, it’s quite clear it’s not clear to the old man of the urban India who sends out his son to officer the Indian Armed Forces or to the farmer who sends out his son to protect the integrity of his land as a soldier.
Even a tooth has not been extracted for a tooth. And lo and behold, Madhav talks of the complete jaw.
The last 24 hours were spent weighing options. May one beg to ask what options were thought out after Pathankot? Were the Indian Armed Forces at all told to do what they consider best to do if another Pathankot happens? Did the Generals at all instruct battalion commanders prepare tactical strike plans to retaliate any event like Pathankot within 24 hours to build the confidence of the Indian people? Quite clearly, nothing happened; everyone went to sleep after issuing brave statements.
We are told that in the meetings that ensued after the attack, wise men have again cautioned against escalation. These wise men are probably those who love to stick to the crumbs of office by hook or crook – so much the better if it’s by the crook. Their children don’t die because they follow the path of affluence. And their affluence would be impacted if the relations between India and Pakistan are further soured.
Hence the counseling for not escalating the matter. Pray, is there a single instance of a conflict or war coming to an end without escalating it to a point where the other gives in? Has India been able to spark wisdom in the Pakistani military apparatus in the last 20 years by what Madhav calls and understands by ‘strategic restraint?’ It’s foolish to believe that the logic of war rests in peace and negotiations and not in escalation. The road to peace has always been through war; two world wars have ensured peace in Europe after centuries. Short of fighting a war, New Delhi could just take out Haji Pir Pass to blunt the Pakistani military machine and its machinations in the Valley.