Indian Premier Narendra Modi has opted for diplomatic assault on Pakistan over waging war after the attack on the army brigade headquarters in Uri. Has the ensuing drama really met its drop scene? If so, has Modi’s India achieved its objectives? Will NaMo be able to preserve his image of a strong man in an India riding high on waves of nationalism and Hindutva?
Enough information is out there to help deconstruct India’s response, and its leadership’s wisdom and ambitions. India has again rescinded from its lofty war cry over what it called Pakistan’s sponsorship of terrorism. Previously, India blamed Islamabad of the same when its parliament came under fire in 2001, faced terrorist attacks in Mumbai and then the Pathankot saga, to name a few. On none of the occasions was the Cold Start doctrine put to its ultimate test. Instead, its nemesis on the western frontier manifested alacrity to deal with the much-trumpeted, wicked war stratagem.
It wasn’t the operational part where India lost it but something more fundamental and strategic. The plea for taking a ‘jaw for tooth’ came as a knee-jerk reaction when the demoralising news of Uri soldiers dying like sitting ducks spread across India.
“Pakistan is a terrorist state and it should be identified and isolated as such. There are definite and conclusive indications that the perpetrators of Uri attack were highly trained, heavily armed and specially equipped,” said Rajnath Singh, India’s home minister, in a series of tweets. He, however, never mentioned the ‘conclusive indications’ or any proof linking perpetrators of the attack to Pakistan instead of more plausible, revengeful Kashmiris.
For Pakistanis, the timing of the Uri incident and the knee-jerk terrorism-sponsored mantra seemed well coordinated, given Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif scheduled a speech at the UN General Assembly with focus on oppression in Jammu and Kashmir by the occupying military. Following initial hullabaloo over the evidence including Pakistan marked bullets, Coke Studio CD etc, Indian defense ministry decided to censor reporting on the matter. Though the public bought into the anti-Pakistan rhetoric, the ‘evidence’ failed to impress Washington and New York. Islamabad’s well-crafted diplomatic campaign coupled with meticulous military posturing upset Delhi’s aggressive schemes. The White House and the UN never went further than condemning the attack. The ministry of external affairs failed to deliver on the promise. Islamabad was far from isolated and singled out for the Uri incident.
The other reason Modi acted like a ‘statesman’ or ate his words was the rashness with which his government wanted to teach Pakistan a lesson. The climate along the Line of Control, where India’s armed forces planned to launch a limited war, is far from conducive for an aggressive advance in the last days of September and beyond. Had it been June or even July, a quick and well-coordinated Indian attack from its Cold Start textbook might have been more plausible.
Thirdly, the Indian military lacked the pre-requisites of the Cold Start doctrine. The force mobilisation was neither swift nor smooth. The military hardware lacked the decisive edge. The Rafale deal was approved under the echoes of Modi’s war cry. The magical mix of 30% cutting edge military hardware, 40% existing technology and 30% obsolete munitions was missing. India echoed with rumours of war fighting stamina of less than 10 days, keeping into account reserve supplies and logistical limitations. The cutting edge technology such as BrahMos is not fully integrated. Last but not the least, the Indian military is not war-tested. The troops were mobilised from the barracks. On the contrary, the enemy was engaged in a protracted battle for over a decade in terrain similar to Jammu and Kashmir. India’s wartime intra-military coordination did not match Pakistan’s, thanks to operations such as Zarb-e-Azb.
Undoubtedly, Pakistan did not have decisive advantage over India. However, it was Delhi’s call to arms, which must go in the war to satisfy its objectives. To its good fortune, the military top brass spelled out the ground realities vis-à-vis the stated objective from the incursion. From diplomatic plain to climatic conditions, preparedness for a military campaign to troops’ morale, almost everything was calmly deliberated. The Indian media, however, demonstrated its readiness to drum up war, more for the sake of ratings than patriotic motivations.
So did the rightwing government really have a choice between war and strategic restraint? The answer is an emphatic no. Modi didn’t wish to be blamed for a fiasco similar to Musharraf’s Kargil in 1999. Neither Washington nor Delhi was sure Islamabad would keep the conflict limited and conventional. The very sentiment in Jammu and Kashmir was itself not conducive for Indian troops to launch a war. Thus, Modi promised to isolate Pakistan diplomatically while daring the enemy to win a war against poverty and literacy. (Meanwhile, he needs to build a few million toilets too).
The war seems to have been deferred to April or the summer season. India’s trigger-happy Hindutva coterie wants to preserve the initiative. Let the weather, the diplomatic muscle, the military preparedness and the air superiority, all be in seamless order. Narendra Modi is no weak leader but a shrewd politician, whose bloody finger prints range from Ahmadabad to Srinagar.
Courtesy : Express Tribune