Pakistan has all along in last seven decades openly and unapologetically demonstrated in relation to India all the adversarial policy inclinations that characterise a nation as an ‘Enemy Nation’. Call for peace dialogues and Composite Dialogues in decades past were intended by Pakistan as only a camouflage for its true intentions of using Pakistan Army affiliated Jihadi terrorist groups to ‘bleed India’.
Such spasmodic calls by Pakistan for peace dialogues had the adverse effect on the Indian Establishment lowering its guard and even some Governments in the past to ignore or soft-pedal India’s war preparedness to meet the Pakistan Threat to India’s external and internal security.
India in 2019 is not the India that faced timidly Pakistan’s grave military and terrorism threats in past decades India in 2019 is comprehensively dominant in all domains of conventional, sub-conventional and nuclear warfare. Besides, the general Indian public opinion in 2019 has overwhelmingly turned against Pakistan incensed by Pakistan’s persistent military and terrorism provocations targeting India.
In 2019, Pakistan bereft of United States political and diplomatic pressures on India to hold its hand against Pakistan, has now found new strategic patrons in China and Saudi Arabia. Both these nations for different reasons are now investing heavily strategically and financially to bail out Pakistan from its ‘Failed State’ conditions. China’s and Saudi Arabia’s support for Pakistan has infused fresh belligerence in Pakistan to provoke and confront India as manifested by the horrendous suicide bombings at Pulwama against the CRPF convoy killing 44 troopers Strangely, Pakistan chose to indulge in this February 2019 grave suicide bombing in India on the eve of State visit of Crown Prince Salman to Islamabad. Who and what for Pakistan was signalling by such a coincident military provocation to India?
Pakistan in February 2019 miscalculated and mistimed provoking India seemingly oblivious to the fact that the Modi Government was a strongly nationalist Indian Government backed by an equally strong and vocal Indian public opinion clamouring cutting of all links with Pakistan—-diplomatically, politically, economically and culturally. Further, Indian public opinion standing strongly behind the Modi Government demanded that Pakistan should be given a stiff military response to curtail its proxy terrorism and suicide bombings strikes against India.
The Modi Government has initiated preliminary ripostes against Pakistan and also has garnered strong denunciations of Pakistan’s complicity in harbouring Jihad terrorist groups inflicting terrorism strikes against not only India but also its Muslim neighbours Iran and Afghanistan.
Strong retaliatory strategies by India and the Indian Armed Forces presumably are in the offing with PM Modi having given a ‘free hand to security forces’ to deal with the Pakistani threat. This would free Indian security forces especially in the Kashmir Valley the devilish arena of Pakistan Army’s intelligence agencies and their Jihadi terrorism affiliates.
The crucial challenge for India and a vexed dilemma is as to what options are available to India over and above the comprehensive retaliatory steps against Pakistan in the offing? The answer lies in Pakistan’s responses in that whether Pakistan will resile from its militarily provocative and terrorism-centric strategies against India or whether it would persist in staying the course?
Much analysis is not required as it is predictable going by Pakistan’s past demonstrated patterns of aggressive wars against India without provocation, state sponsored terrorism and instigating militancy in Kashmir Valley and in India’s North East that Pakistan will not desist from this pattern.
In 2019, Pakistan is further emboldened that unlike in past wars, China cannot falter in not coming militarily in support of Pakistan Army against India with particular reference to the security of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The China Pakistan Axis is a military reality ‘in being’ and not a rhetorical construct and this poses serious military challenges for India and its security. These stand covered in my book: ‘China-India Military Confrontation: 21st Century Perspectives.’
Flowing from the above contextually is the inescapable imperative that India cannot expect Pakistan as long as it is a ‘Garrison State’ under Pakistan Army jackboots and where Pakistan’s latest PM Imran Khan asserts that he is ‘on the same page’ as GHQ Rawalpindi Generals, India cannot expect Pakistan to behave and function as a ‘Responsible State’ respecting international norms and conventions. The latest political interference in India’s internal political affairs was Pak PM Imran Khan’s assertion that Pakistan will await the outcome of Indian General Elections 2019. Implicit in it was his hopes that PM Modi does not return to power again in New Delhi.
If Pakistan cannot be a ‘Normal State’ respecting civilised norms and persists in needling India militarily and persistently, Pakistan leaves no space for India but to designate Pakistan as an ‘Enemy Nation” till such time Pakistan’s public gather courage to overthrow Pakistan Army’s gridlock on Pakistan’s governance and foreign policy.
Pakistan being designated as ‘Enemy Nation’ would free India from the pretences and pious hopes for peace with Pakistan. It would also free India from ambiguities in its Pakistan policies. India would be free to apply economic sanctions against India and also motivate other nations affected by Pakistan’s state- sponsored terrorism against its neighbours like Iran and Afghanistan.
India would also be free to initiate an ‘Arms Race on Pakistan Army’. With impoverished masses of Pakistan already being denied development because of Pakistan Army misappropriating major share of Pakistan’s limited revenues domestic discontent within Pakistan against Pakistan Army is bound to follow.
Short of actual military operations an ‘Arms Race’ initiated by India would also find Pakistan’s strategic patrons like China and Saudi Arabia to ponder and decide how long and with how much financial resources can they keep on underwriting Pakistan Army’s military adventurism.
India should remember that US President Reagan succeeded in the disintegration of Former Soviet Union by inflicting an ‘Arms Race’ on USSR which led to economic collapse of the Soviet Union. India can expect similar results in relation to Pakistan and its meddlesome Pakistan Army.
India with its growing economic strengths can afford this option but Pakistan Army living on foreign doles and Pakistan economy faltering cannot afford to equal India in a fast track ‘Arms Race’.
With such an ‘Arms Race’ India’s war preparedness would automatically be placed on a sound footing both in relation to the China-Pakistan Axis and also catering for the China Threat.
India in comparison to Pakistan figures ore significantly in the global strategic calculus in long terms calculations of Major Powers and its strategic sensitivities unlike the past cannot be discounted. That should be confidence enough for India to adopt strong and assertive policies on a recalcitrant Pakistan Army. In fact, Pakistan’s neighbours also so troubled but without India’s resources to discipline Pakistan would welcome India asserting itself in this direction.
Concluding, it needs to be stressed that India should not shirk from assertive steps to meet the Pakistan Army challenges to India’s external and internal security. As a regional power and also as a Major Power in making, regional countries and Major Powers, with exception of China, would expect India not to shirk butto use her power attributes unapologetically and without second thoughts.
By Dr Subhash Kapila