The acute civilian military disconnect in India is most prominently seen by the public reactions after every terrorist attack (like the latest in Uri, which sadly won’t be the last), where we get reactions like “enough is enough, annihilate Pakistan” , abusing the government, and two weeks later, forgetting everything and going back to being clowns waiting in lines for hours for a glimpse of the latest mediocre Bollywood moron.
Talk about caste and reservations and you will get hundreds of thousands of people on the street in an instant. But national security is not even a topic important enough for discussion in a private meeting, forget about it being an electoral issue.
These are the people who talk about becoming a superpower. A people who vote for cheap pulses and free electricity more eagerly than for dignity for themselves and their children do not deserve any better life or safety, and therefore it is funny when this lot talks about patriotism and national pride.
India as a country is very guilty of not giving its national security the importance it deserves. Time and again, it acts only when it suffers grave losses.
We did not have a paramilitary force till Pakistan decimated the police forces manning the Kutch border in the beginning of 1956 war. We did not have a counter terror force specializing in urban warfare (NSG) till Operation Blue Star. These are just two examples.
We still have not modernized our forces to world standards, we cannot give our soldiers a decent assault rifle, we have failed to integrate the retired soldiers to meaningful employment, we have not even been able to inspire our public to rise beyond emotional trash and work towards building a strong India.
Because face it, no one from Mohandas Gandhi to Jawaharlal Nehru to all the elected vote bank managers that we call MPs and MLAs have had any vision or idea of a strong India. And the lesser said the better about third front leaders, who will sell the country for a few votes and some kebabs.
Comparisons are made with Israel, conveniently forgetting that the so called Palestine , or factions like Fatah, Hamas or Hezbollah are nowhere near the capability of the IDF.
Israel has overwhelming technical superiority over these, as well as over Iran, Egypt or any other Arab state surrounding them. And Israel is self reliant in defence manufacturing, from assault rifles to radar systems. And it has USA’s backing at all given times.
India is the world’s largest weapons importer, which is ironic since lot still needs to be done to make our soldiers safe, right from the standard issue weapons to the fact that they still sleep in tents in many troubled areas.
Also heard is the oft repeated rhetoric that our army can thrash theirs in a moment.
Most countries have an army. Pakistan army has the country.
It does not matter how poor Pakistan is, how it can collapse just without one years remittances from the west or the gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia etc etc, because its the Pakistan Army which gets the biggest share of any foreign aid into the country.
Pakistan is a nuclear state. Pakistan Army holds more than 40% of the country’s assets, and its the highest investor in Karachi Stock Exchange.
Unlike most of the armies in the world, its self funded. It runs its own money laundering racket, owns stakes in a lot of businesses like cement, fertilizers . They are not answerable to the civilian government for the defence budget and its uses. And the civilian government is at its mercy.
Any candidate contesting elections is screened by ISI first to be deemed fit for the same, and so are any of the people from there visiting India under the Amanullah ki Asha nonsense. W
hile its very true that Pakistan Air Force and Navy are much weaker than their Indian counterparts, these two won’t come into action unless there is a full scale war.
Its just the armies of two countries that are at odds right now. And the tactics used right now are pretty low tech, with the plain old jehadi tactics of infiltration, laying low and then striking at the right time.
All our casualties right now are infantry (along with the support staff that are targeted). This is what bleeding through a thousand cuts looks like. Its always the army general in Pakistan that seizes the power in any coup, with the AF and Navy chief being mere supports.
Fighting India is raison d’etre for the Pakistan Army, just keeping up the violent battle is a victory enough for it, even at the cost of its own harm. The biggest defeat for it is to accept status quo, and accept the fact that India has the upper hand.
Another stupid thing is attacking Pakistani actors working in India for not speaking about Pak sponsored terrorism. No judge in Pakistan can ever hope to remain safe if he sentences a terrorist to long imprisonment, most recently seen in the very light sentence awarded to Zaki ul Rehman Laqwi, where he even sired a child with his latest wife in jail. Not just the judge, even his or her family will not be safe.
Mumtaz Qadri, who shot Punjab governor Salman Taseer for opposing the blasphemy law (inspite of being his bodyguard) was showered with rose petals by lawyers in the court where he was being tried. When he was finally hanged, there were violent protests all over Pakistan.
These are just two examples to state the vice like grip of jihad on Pakistan. In a country where lawyers beat up judges and patients beat up doctors, you cant expect rule of law.
So, when even judges and governors aren’t safe from jihadi threats, how can actors be safe? Will any of them live to see another day if they speak against jihadi groups?
And forget them, have any of the so called actors in Bollywood who are Indian, spoken out against Pak funded terror? They are more guilty, more ungrateful than any Pakistani artiste.
A lot of infantiles have already started invoking Indira Gandhi as the perfect example for teaching Pakistan a lesson during 1971. Is it?
Was she able to stop Pakistan from acquiring nuclear weapons?
Who signed the Shimla agreement?
Who readily sent back 93000 POWs (biggest number of POWs captured since the Sixth Army’s surrender in Stalingrad in Feb 1943)to Pakistan without using this opportunity as leverage to resolve the Kashmir issue once and for all?
And after that, who nurtured monsters like Bhindrawale and co just to get even with Akal Takht which resulted in the loss of two generations in Punjab, including the massacre of 40000 plus Hindus by Khalistani militants during 1978-92?
1971 was a result of the brilliance of our intelligence agencies and armed forces, and the fact that Pakistan Army under Operation Searchlight had massacred 3 million Bengalis and hence the Indian Army was able to recruit Mukti Bahini and get plenty of local support.
And what about China, Saudi Arabia and USA?
Pakistan is a very useful country for all these three, owing to its strategic location.
For China, its CPEC, and the fact that most of the naval ports in Pakistan are built by them. Pakistan is vital for them to give them access to the waters in west Asia and is also an important base for them.
Ditto for USA, for whom Pakistan has been an important base since its inception, mainly to have presence in Asia and keep an eye on the erstwhile Soviet Union , notably during the Soviet incursion in Afghanistan, as well as for their so called war on terror, from where they can conduct their operations in Afghanistan. USA depends on Pakistan for keeping the supply lines to keep their bases in Afghanistan running.
As for Saudi Arabia, Pakistan is an important errand boy for them. Pakistanis take pride in being the pooches of the sheikhs (Even naming Lyallpur as Faisalabad in the 1970s), whether it is being a factory of menial labour for them or becoming a defacto military arm for them.
None of these three will be very pleased if India tries any retaliation.
India’s options for surgical strikes can be :-
Air strikes or artillery strikes on the terror camps , but it can quickly escalate to a larger conflict as civilian casualties are a total certainty on the other side, besides the limited data on the exact location of the camps.
Ditto with using missiles, which will not cause any casualties to Indian forces but can escalate to nuclear conflict.
Raids done by infantry camps across the border will be precise but it can easily turn into a disaster as the limited number of troops can easily be surrounded. Pakistan isn’t Myanmmar and it will offer full resistance.
Heavy artillery fire is always used against Pakistan army posts, but it does not target the terror camps.
Revenge is what the people sitting in the comfort of their homes scream, in an A/C cabin demanding. Well who’s going to take revenge and die doing the same if necessary? Our soldiers.
Are we ready to suffer a few thousand casualties in this war?
Chechnyya is one of the smallest provinces ,just a minuscule piece of land compared to the rest of Russia, and Russia fought two wars there during the 90s to crush the largely CIA funded militia. They lost the first war losing 3-4 thousand soldiers and won the second decisive one, losing 5-6 thousand .That is 10000 personnel lost (and equal number injured gravely) for killing all the terrorists in a region which is smaller than half of Kerala.
Pakistan is no Chechnya , its fifty times bigger in area. Its army is the worlds seventh largest, and has no qualms in siphoning off resources at the cost of other development, and even if
India destroys that country, it can bid goodbye to atleast two or three of its major cities if it does come to even a limited scale full fledged conflict.
Is our urban public ready to sacrifice their life as they know it, because no matter how small a conflict is, civilians are no longer safe, and here we are talking about two nuclear powers.
Are they ready to watch their neighbourhoods turned to rubble, their life savings reduced to nothing as the economy is obliterated back to atleast 1970s if not 1950s? Are they ready to make even one tenth of sacrifice that our soldiers make? Because that is what it will take, as it has been in case of every major war.
If you are baying for blood, atleast don’t bay for it riding on the soldier’s bravery while hiding behind the safety of your home. Let him do the fighting, as he has always heroically.
But here is what the govt and common man can atleast attempt to do as a duty:-
1. Keep Pakistan on the edge. Let them be tense, let them spend precious time and resources organizing preparation drills. This takes out a lot from the enemy than some firing on the border most of the times. Being on high alert all the time is detrimental, financially and mentally.
2. Isolate Pakistan internationally. No, not by lame measures like begging other countries to declare it a terrorist state (they already know it but they don’t care), but economically. Start pouring your exports in the areas where they export, at lesser prices. India already exports what Pakistan does, and Pakistan’s GDP is lesser than that of Maharashtra. India can bear some losses for the long term benefits. Any MNCs or any governments coming for bilateral ties need to be told that it cannot do business with India if it does so with Pakistan. Indian public must boycott such companies.
3. Stop jingoism or demanding any display of it. The govt is not obliged for sharing any covert info. Fight with facts, not appeals. Instead of increasing people to people contact via Aman ki Asha type nonsense, advertise the fact to Pakistani general public at every given opportunity, that India has a functioning democracy, while in Pakistan its still not ascertained how does a leader come to power or step down from power. Make the facts clear that the children of every war mongering general or jihad screaming mullah are studying abroad, safe from the violence their daddies want other people’s children to be a part of.
4. Stop all exchanges with Pakistan, cultural or financial. Most of the businesses have Pakistan military stake in it, hence if we buy it, we are paying for the next bullet they will fire at us. Do not pay to attend any concert of any Pakistani artiste, listen to him/her for free on youtube like sites if you really are desperate. Honestly, Pakistan has nothing to offer anything in performing arts that India doesn’t have. Stop promoting every trash that comes from there, which includes lauding the ghastly wailing and braying which is promoted as Sufi music (Read the history of the Sufis, they were as despicable as any jihadi tyrant that attacked India in medieval times). Stop having the myopic view that we are brothers just because you listen to some Punjabi song from across the border.
Promote little known Indian artistes instead of hiring mediocre ones from Pakistan. Boycott any director and film which has Pakistani artistes in it. And yes, boycott India-Pakistan sporting events as well. You can’t win by attacking our enemies with square cuts, offspin and cover drives and celebrate like you have ‘defeated’ them finally.
5. Giving asylum to the separatist leaders in Pakistan viz Balochs must be done with caution. There is a wrong kind of impression given by some intellectuals, especially one ex Pakistani Canadian intellectual that the entire Balochistan will welcome India with garlands in order to secede from Pakistan. While it is true that the Baloch separatist movement is strong, such sweeping generalizations are never healthy. One cannot forget that the Baloch warlords have been as cruel as the Punjabi feudals and Muhajir gangsters with their own people. There are divided opinions within each tribe there.
6. Modernize the forces and do not put the weapons purchase on backburner or engulf them in red tape. Why does a vital project like LCA take three decades to even come to induction phase? Do not buy weapons from the countries which sell the same to Pakistan. India is the worlds largest arms importer, and no one can ignore this market. At the same time, hold the likes of DRDO accountable.
7. If its easy to fight till the last drop of the soldier’s blood, why is it so difficult to remember him and be grateful to him and ask that why he is not been given his due, why does he have to make do with substandard equipment and why is every pay commission siphoned off by the leeches in the civil service and other government sectors leaving very little for him?
Yes, our army is the third largest in the world, but it is not as well equipped infra structurally as it should be. A lot of personnel are lost for reasons which can be easily avoided. Their blood is more on the hands of the bureaucrats and politicians as much it is on the hands of the enemy. There are no superlatives to describe the exemplary work our forces have done to keep us all safe, to give back worse than what they get to the enemy and yet, not demand anything more than what is their rightful due.
A country that does not honour its farmer or its soldier deserves no honour. And we have superbly put ourselves in that category. Instead of Jai Jawan Jai Kisan, we are living the motto ‘ Marre Jawan, marre kisaan’. Patriotism isn’t about being a cheerleader banking on some others bravery/capability or about a few slogans or some convenient denial of facts. Its a moral value, and it takes character to build it and live it. Are we upto it?