Herald: Strategically, is knee-jerk reaction to Pulwama attack feasible or apt?

Strategically, is knee-jerk reaction to Pulwama attack feasible or apt?

18 Feb 2019 03:32am IST
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18 Feb 2019 03:32am IST

While India burns in anger over the Pulwama terror attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has promised action against the perpetrators of this heinous act, also reiterated in Bihar and Jharkhand on Sunday that the “fire is burning inside me too”.

Social media is going berserk and the emotions are raging very high to take revenge of the 40 CRPF brave-hearts who were martyred on Valentine’s Day. Many of the social media users who are livid with this Syria-like suicidal IED attack are of the opinion that it is only the Modi government which can take action as they believe that what he says, he delivers.

History with India and Pakistan is being refreshed for the newer generations when people are discussing on how 90,000 Pakistani army men were captured by India during the 1971 Indo-Pak war which helped creating Bangladesh. Issues like India’s weak-kneed surrender to terrorists at Kandahar airport on hijacking of Indian Airline Flight No. 814 on December 24, 1999 are coming to the fore. The hostage crisis lasted for a week and ended after India agreed to release three militants – Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, and the most dreaded of them Maulana Masood Azhar. These militants have since been implicated in other terrorist actions, such as the 2002 kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl and 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Maulana Masood Azhar had founded Jaish-e-Muhammed (JEM) in 2000, which gained notoriety for its alleged role in the December 13, 2001 Indian Parliament attack. The same JEM has claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack. India has been repeatedly asking Pakistan to handover Masood Azhar who is taking refuge, hiding and masterminding terror operations in India. Following the January 2, 2016 Pathankot attack Pakistani authorities took Masood Azhar into ‘protective custody’, which was widely reported in Pakistan as an ‘arrest’.

However, after every terrorist attack, be it the attack on Parliament, 26/11 Mumbai, January 2, 2016 Pathankot and September 18, 2016 Uri attack, the cry is always to go for a war with Pakistan. The similar clarion call is being made now by the enraged citizens of India which is becoming the norm. Everyone now wants a quick solution and through extreme steps against Pakistan and very rightly so. But is this feasible?

Also, all political parties in India will try and use this event to garner some brownie points for the upcoming 2019 general elections. However, little do the political parties realise that at this juncture India is enraged and any misadventure to politicise this issue may boomerang on these political parties. India should speak as one nation especially when there is an engagement with a foreign country and not trivialise this issue by political and community blaming game against each other on a political platform. Ironically, many political leaders did not even attend the all party meet and those who attended, were engaged in checking their flight timings.

The questions which are longing for answer is that how did a vehicle laden with 350 kilogram of explosives enter the convoy of the CRPF? Whose lapse was it? Was there an intelligence failure or were the intelligence inputs taken as a routine? Questions are also being raised on the reason why the local Kashmiri 22-year old terrorist who orchestrated this dastardly event joined the terrorists. All such information is still hidden or remains unearthed behind the dark clouds. Obviously, the National Security Advisor (NSA) team must be trying to unravel this jig-saw puzzle by now.

But, is war is the right solution? Certainly, war is the last resort and there are no qualms about it. A war can only take place when all diplomatic channels between the two countries end and exhaust, economy and trade between the warring countries are severed and there is no point of return. And yes, Pakistan will be ready for any eventuality in hope of support from their friendly country China. Hence, timing too, plays a major role in any aggression.

If war is too complex to handle and since the stakes are very high there are several other channels by which India can make a move to avenge the continual terror from across the border. In fact, in the last four and half years of Modi government, Prime Minister Modi has travelled almost the entire globe and has made ‘friends’ with many countries and also enhanced the image of India. Can this be encashed by asking the friendly countries to sever economic ties with Pakistan? Can this be used to ensure that the defence armament supply to Pakistan be stopped?

The new age war is the war of intelligence, information technology, connections, economic and financial strength and image building on the globe. Economic and financial sanctions and isolation can be a very big embarrassment for any country and that can be seen as a long-term solution. To bring about a solution to this impending and ‘ever-lasting’ terrorism from across the border will take time. Knee jerk reactions to any such events can be detrimental and there is a no foolproof success. 

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