On Peaceniks and War Mongers - The Pulwama Aftermath

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"Strong leadership is the key differentiator between success and failure"

On February 14, 2019, a terrorist attack on a CRPF convoy resulted in the martyrdom of over 40 CRPF soldiers. Citizens of India felt a familiar punch in the gut. It is not the first time that India has experienced terror attacks on our forces, and we know the bitter truth that this will not be the last.

The terrorist group, JeM, claimed responsibility for the attack. The entire nation mourned the loss of our brave-hearts. It was depressing to read about the kith and kin who were left behind - newly married and now widowed, just-born infants without a father. The stories are gut-wrenching and tear-jerking for anyone with empathy.

The nation wanted payback. And, in my opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting revenge for the deaths of these soldiers.

Pakistan has historically been the petri-dish where it grows and nurtures all strains of terrorists. Many people prefer the usage of the word 'breeding-ground', but I think it is more scientific than that. The government brainwashes, trains and grows soldiers of chaos with the single intent of bleeding India with a thousand cuts. It is well known, not just by India, but by the international community as well. Pakistan has accepted the fact that it can never catch up to India in terms of economy, technology and military. Pakistan has zero chances of winning a conventional war because the sheer difference in numbers makes it obvious.

India has, on numerous occasions, given Pakistan dossiers with evidence of terrorists, locations of camps and other pieces of information. However, it always treats it with blatant disregard and seeks more evidence. Unofficially, however, we know that the government has no intent on ever acting on them.

Let us look at things from Pakistan's viewpoint for some time. Pakistan claims to be a victim of terrorism. Pakistan shares a border with Afghanistan, a nation that is war-torn and ravaged and has a history of being led by extremists. Afghanistan also has the reputation of being a drug hub, and Pakistan claims to be a victim of the extremism and drug menace. Many countries accuse Pakistan of being a breeder of terrorism that diverts ample funds provided by the United States to combat terror on the western border towards its Eastern border to fund terror against India. While Pakistan may genuinely be a victim of terror, it is due to conscious choices. Pakistani citizens get furious when the world accuses Pakistan of fomenting terror. They feel that they have been paying a heavy price as victims of terror themselves.

Every Indian realises that the average Pakistani is an ordinary person who does not want war. Neither does any Indian. The aftermath of war is horrible, and a large number of people lose their lives and limbs. It results in irreparable damage to families. However, being peace-loving and inaction are entirely different. Even the Bhagavad Gita describes righteous wars at length. A country that doesn't react to attacks against its citizens cannot survive for too long. A powerful military is a necessity for economic development. Even emperor Ashoka, who became a pacifist after the bloody Kalinga war, had one of the greatest armies. There is a complete difference between war-mongering and surgically striking against terrorists.

For some time, let us forget that it is election season in India. If you were the head of a country that is significantly stronger than a neighbouring country that has historically waged multiple wars with your nation, bred terrorists with the singular goal of destroying your homeland and takes no action to curb these actions, what would you do? It is apparent to anyone with an ordinary level of IQ that dialogue with such a nation is futile. India needs to take a stronger stand.

The immediate question is - What is this stronger stand? One punitive action that comes to my mind is an economic sanction. If India can substantially throttle Pakistan's funds, the latter may eventually be forced to toe the former's line. Unfortunately, Pakistan is not that dependent on India. India could work with other countries and influence them to not trade with Pakistan. The United States has successfully demonstrated this with Iran and North Korea. Even if India could achieve this, China has proven to be an 'Iron Brother' of Pakistan. China, being an economic powerhouse, is hard to browbeat. Modi's government, however, is pulling diplomatic strings to isolate Pakistan. Only personal relationships among leaders can result in such measures being successful. Critics of Modi's 'frequent flying' should note this. Only time can answer how successful this is. One can immediately note that the success of this is dependent on external factors and we know that anything with more moving parts has a higher chance of failure.

The remaining alternative is to take unilateral action. India is not a minor, weak nation. India ranks at number 4 behind the US, Russia and China in the world (Pakistan is at a distant 17). Countries like the United States, Russia and Israel have taken unilateral steps when there is a perception of imminent threat. Taking pre-emptive action seems to be an obvious and logical decision.

Based on credible intelligence, India identified terror camps where the terrorists were holed up and launched an airstrike on them, wiping out between 250 - 350 terrorists and their handlers and trainers in one fell swoop. If you look at this from the Indian side, the citizens are going to be jubilant, for the leadership neutralised the enemies of the state and brought the perpetrators of the murderous attack to justice. We Indians deserve to be. The Pakistani leadership will, naturally, be ashamed at being caught off-guard. Their media made a lot of noise about the impunity with which Indian aircrafts 'violated' Pakistani airspace. The media cannot report that the Indians eliminated terrorists on their soil because Pakistan has denied their existence. They are forced to create a narrative where Indian aircrafts 'violated' their airspace and were 'forced back' by PAF. They had to explain the destruction - They saved their face by saying that the retreating aircrafts hastily dropped bombs that destroyed nothing.

The Pakistani citizens pressured their leadership to payback with the same coin. Their objective is to show strength. PAF, however, is unable to find terror targets in India (there are none) and attempted misadventures that resulted in their aircraft getting shot down. An Indian pilot, unfortunately, ended up in Pakistani custody due to a technical failure of the ageing MiG Bison.

At this juncture, we should observe a few notable developments. As people, we should learn to appreciate and give credit where credit is due. We may have differing views on various aspects. It is imperative that we criticise ideas and not personalities. In India, there is a group of people who have come together against Narendra Modi. It is unfortunate that these people are unable to stand united with Modi against the external enemy. They criticised him for inaction after the attack against the CRPF jawans and criticised his action as warmongering when we decimated their terror camps. This criticism by Rahul Gandhi and his coterie, right or wrong, should not have been in public. Pakistani media picked up this criticism and started portraying Modi as a villain.

As citizens, we should demonstrate solidarity with the government and show a unified face against an enemy. It is disheartening to see even Pakistan achieve this. However, it seems to be an idea that is difficult for a few Indians to grasp. While Pakistani celebrities like Veena Malik and others stood behind Pakistan, so did Indians like Sagarika Ghose, Navjot Singh Sidhu and Sonam Kapoor - they supported Pakistan! In a democracy, there are going to be differences in opinion, and the populace is bound to be divided on various matters. Against a common enemy, however, especially a foreign one, it is vital for Indians to present a common front.

The international community has been vocal about Pakistani support to terror and has censured Pakistan on multiple occasions. However, there haven't been sufficient steps taken to arm-twist Pakistan to curb their camps. Pakistan enjoys this privilege due to its strategic location. The United States has historically been a supporter of Pakistan, and for the past several decades not taken any action against it. With their relationship now taking a turn for the worse, Pakistan has found an 'Iron Brother' in China. Pakistan is vital to China for the same reason - its strategic geographic location. The United States can easily check China's naval channels on the East with blockades. Almost every country around China's coast including Japan, South Korea and other island nations are US allies. China seeks to access the oceans through Pakistan's Gwadar port. Therefore, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is vital to China.

China has over 60 billion dollars invested in Pakistan. Pakistan uses this bargaining chip to its fullest advantage. China also wishes to curb India's growth to be the only dominant power in the region. India has been the only country that China has been unsuccessful in bullying as was demonstrated in the Doklam incident. Thus, China uses its diplomatic machinery to thwart India's attempt to paint Pakistan as a terrorist nation.

India has very few options remaining. India should, therefore, take short-term tactical measures and long-term strategic measures. The government and the forces have started taking effective short-term tactical measures.

In the long-term, India needs to invest heavily in covert operations. Israel has achieved astonishing feats through its secret service agency Mossad. Intelligence and covert operations help in thwarting enemy operations at early stages and alerting the troops about possible attacks in advance. Sabotaging the Pakistani systems from within will serve as an effective way of keeping the enemy in check. India-Israel relationships are at an all-time high after Modi came to power and the countries should further strengthen their ties to collaborate in covert missions. India also should leverage their friendship with Iran and Afghanistan and surround Pakistan from all sides.

Finally, India should strongly consider the balkanisation of Pakistan. Pakistan is an incredibly dangerous and unstable nuclear-powered nation that has shown the willingness to use nuclear weapons during the Kargil war. They resort to brinkmanship like North Korea. Countries like these need to be systematically dismantled by invading forces in the manner in which countries like Germany and Japan were after the Second World War. India should split Balochistan from Pakistan and reduce its power by half. If we are to consider India to be a rising power, regional if not global super-power, then we should have the willingness to fight alone and go the whole way to achieve this goal.

It requires tremendously strong-willed leadership. Indira Gandhi is a prime example of iron will that comes to mind, and Narendra Modi is easily her successor in that regard.

To summarise, Pakistan is not a peace-loving country where dialogue works. It is a rogue nation and India should be willing to show its place in the global pecking order. Strong leadership is an absolute necessity, and the citizenry should back our prime minister rather than dilute our position to the external world.

We will endure, and we will win. Jai Hind!

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