Air Marshal Ashok Goel (Retd.)
PVSM AVSM VM
11, Silver State, Pilibhit Byepass Road,
Bareilly-243005 (U.P.) INDIA
Mob: 9411900090, 09999722636
Pakistan’s Involvement in J & K – A Continuing Threat to National Security
The problem of militancy which has afflicted Jammu and Kashmir since the middle of 1988 has already taken a toll of over 40,000 lives. This is a huge loss by any standard and India is rightly perceived being engaged in a proxy war unleashed by Pakistan. In fact the roots of the present problem can be traced to the Pakistani misadventure of trying to take over the State by force in 1947-48. The situation that we face in land K today is a continuum of the events that unfolded sixty years ago.
Since 1947 Pakistan has forced regular wars on Us in 1947-48, 1965 and 1971: a limited armed clash in 1999 in Kargil sector and continuing proxy war J&K since 1988, in addition to Pak efforts to support rebel group;; and create problems in other parts of the country (Reference to MHA Annual Reports). The first confrontation in 1947-48 was a pre-cursor of the events to follow, as Pakistan learnt important lessons, like:
• Belligerence pays
• A mix of covert and open aggression is cost-effective and gainful
• High-pitch propaganda, manipulation of UN systems and~influel1tial friends is a very potent mix.
• India would tackle the aggression defensively and localize the area of conflict.
The militancy which surfaced in Sept 1988 is the improved version of Pak attempts in 1947-48 and 1965, refined with the experience gained from her involvement in Afghanistan and Punjab, in the late seventies and eighties .
We have' been consistently defensive, reactive and short sighted in our responses. Even while replying to sudden, provocative and unorthodox moves by Pakistan our reactions have been slow, ponderous, conventional and predictable. Set-piece responses to a cunning and often elusive adversary. Our only un-orthodox achievement in the last sixty years has been a mini Chindit like outfit named "Meghdoot" in 1965.
Also we have been irrationally magnanimous in our victories.
India, we must accept, has been successively out-maneuvered by Pakistani defence and diplomatic establishments.
Not withstanding cease-fire on borders since Nov 2003, and some progress in the ongoing peace Jalks, the situation on the borders remains a cause for concern. jt
and calls for continued vigil and preparedness.
The situation on India's borders will remain unsettled in the foreseeable future due to factors like geo-strategic considerations, fall out of the colonial legacy and inadequacy of India's power projections in the region. We have consistently failed to send a message across to the neighbors -big or small- that any tinkering with the established borders would not be tolerated and India would vigorously take all necessary steps to safe guard its vital national interests and security.
It is crucial therefore to stimulate a change in the collective psyche of the India's ruling" class, across the' political spectrum, to effectively project the country' military and economic power and potential. This •also means a fundamental shift from reactive mind set to pro-active approach. The political executive as well as the senior force commanders would also do well to imbibe a spirit of risk taking and un- orthodox approach to tackling problems.
It should also be realized that Pakistan does possess considerable military muscle and its fighting forces are efficient, well trained and well equipped. Therefore a conventional war may not be cost effective and attractive proposition. However; with low development indices and a fragile economy, it is far more vulnerable to economic pressures. Therefore, a logical course of action would be to follow the strategy of economic and political squeeze while keeping. The military pressure on. The Indian State should learn valuable lessons from the course of the cold war which, terminated the existence of U.S.S.R. and the Eastern Block.
Instead of taking defensive posture in countering Pakistan's proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir, our country should carry the fight to the enemy's territory.
This strategy will also have far-reaching adverse economic consequences for Pakistan as its financial condition is already very bad and it will. not be able to combat instability in its own territory for a long period as the cost of it will become unacceptable to Pakistan. The United States of America had done the same thing with the then USSR.
While India should step up its diplomatic efforts to expose the Pakistani game amongst the international community, particularly keeping in view its abhorrence for terrorism, and try to exert pressure from other countries, the limitations of such outside influence should be clearly realized. The extent of the US pressure and willingness to push Pakistan in the context of American interest in the region must be carefully studied. In addition to making all possible efforts to improve the existing internal situation, the country needs to take steps to make Pak involvement in India's aff1irs much more costly. This of course. is a separate subject in itself. We must also learn from the past mistakes to do well on the negotiating table.
Two things stand out clearly. Mischief from Pakistan continues and is unlikely to abate. Also a broad overview of the situation prevailing in different parts of the country clearly establishes that Pakistan's designs are not limited to J and K only but target entire India. The annual report of the Ministry of Home Affairs for the year 2003-04, inter-alia, mentions at para 1.12: "Pakistan has consistently• used terrorism and covert actions as an instrument of State policy• against India. It has recruited, trained, financed, armed and infiltrated terrorists in India and has provided sanctuary to anti-Indian elements. It has also sought to promote disaffection among the India people towards the State with a view to destabilize the country". This assessment continues to hold true and has been reiterated since then.
India has had to deal with Pakistan as a difficult neighbor and a source of
Constant trouble, at times downrightly dangerous. Pak involvement in the affairs of India, particularly in J and K, have serious implications not only to the national security and territorial integrity of this country, it also hits at the very core of Indian nationhood, based on secularism, pluralism and liberal democratic values. The conflict is not just for an area or a section of population, it is much more fundamental; of cherished values and lofty ideals. India -must gamer all her national resources, much beyond the military prowess, to decisively defeat the Pakistani designs. This effort to turn the comer should begin in J and K, where the Pak mischief originally• started way back in 1947.