A large swathe of India's security establishment had reached near unanimity on how the government should approach Pakistan. They called for imposing a cost on Pakistan for exporting terror to India and warned against holding any dialogue with Pakistan till such time as Pakistan-sponsored terrorism did not end.
That was five years ago when forty one security experts including Ajit Doval were signatories to this document warning that the only way forward for India was to adopt a muscular policy towards its neighbour. A statement to this effect, titled Indo-Pak Relations by Members of India’s Strategic Community, was also issued.
Doval of course went on to become the National Security Adviser under the Modi regime but these experts had then stated unanimously that 'it was time policies were devised that would impose a cost on Pakistan for its export of terror to India and thus change the cost-benefit calculus of these policies and actions. A proactive approach by India towards Pakistan must be the order of the day, as it will yield us much better results than those garnered by policies of appeasement which have regrettably been pursued by us for years.'
Former high commissioner to Pakistan Satish Chandra one of the main architects of this document believes that India has no choice but to take their earlier document one step forward by coming down on Pakistan with a heavy hand.
"We need to impose a heavy cost on Pakistan for its policy of exporting terror to us. Military action is just one of the actions that India must resort to," Chandra, who was also India's former deputy national security advisor, said.
Elaborating on this he said, "India needs to adopt a multi- pronged approach using all elements of state power — military, diplomatic, economic, and commercial, in both an overt and covert mode, to impose such pain on Pakistan that it is compelled to give up its involvement with terrorist activities. Such a policy would need to be sustained over several months and even years if necessary," said Chandra.
For one, notice should be given for suspension of the Indus Waters Treaty citing Article 62 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which provides for the same in the event of a fundamental change of circumstances under which the treaty was concluded. Pakistan's export of terror is reason enough for us to abrogate the treaty,' he maintains.
He further believed that Pakistan's faultlines should be ruthlessly exploited especially in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa . "We need to start a campaign to project Pakistan as a terrorist state and call for imposition of sanctions against it. This would necessitate declaring it as a terrorist state and breaking diplomatic relations with it. We should also disavow the Durand Line and start building dams for hydro-electricity and irrigation on the tributaries of the Indus in Afghanistan as a part of its assistance programmes to Afghanistan," he said.
Chandra also believed that India should opt for closer ties with Afghanistan and Iran in fighting terrorism as both these countries were also victims of 'Pakistan's terror factories.'
India must also start an international campaign to project Pakistan as a terrorist state and call for imposition of sanctions against it, including the breaking of diplomatic ties, he said.
Pakistan's human rights violations in these areas as well as in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir must be given widespread publicity including at international fora. Chandra maintained the time had come for us to 'systematically highlight the human rights violations routinely committed by Pakistan against its own people, in the Human Rights Council in Geneva and in the UN in New York. If we could do so against Sri Lanka, why not against Pakistan ?" he asked.
Chandra further believed that contingency plans for covert action, and if need be focused strikes, should be developed so that following any further Pakistan sponsored terrorist actions against us, these action could be automatically triggered within a matter of hours.
He also believed that as part of a slew of action against our neighbour, "We must prevail upon the European Union to no longer provide duty free access to Pakistani textile exports which they had earlier given with our consent. We should undercut Pakistan’s rice and textile exports, withdraw from TAPI, press the Financial Action Task Force to place Pakistan on its black list, and use our influence in the international and regional financial institutions to stall financial support to Pakistan," he said.
Another step against them would be to come up with a broad asylum policy to shelter those who suffer human rights abuse in Pakistan. Chandra believes, "We need to devise an asylum policy within the framework of which it should provide shelter to those who are the victims of state terror in Pakistan, whether they belong to religious, sectarian or ethnic minorities. After all, if India can provide asylum to people from all over our neighbourhood why not to those from Pakistan?" he said.
Most security analysts believe that India’s dealings with Pakistan must be governed by its nature and its approach to us. Since its very inception in 1947, Pakistan has regarded India as an existential enemy and has accordingly bent all its energies to hurt us.
Chandra believes, "This is the result of Pakistan’s internal dynamics including its own identity crisis. India's efforts to befriend Pakistan and assuage its concerns through a variety of magnanimous gestures such as the Indus Waters Treaty, the return without any quid pro quo of 93,000 prisoners and over 5,000 square miles of territory captured in the 1971 conflict, and it MFN treatment have not stopped Pakistan government from hitting out at us. This is because anti Indianism is a part of their DNA and no matter what concessions we make, an adversarial relationship with the latter is inevitable."
Would such an escalation see a further hardening from the Pakistani end and could accelerated tensions result in a war and possibly a nuclear conflagration ? Chandra believes, "A nuclear conflagration is a red herring. Nuclear things (wars) don’t happen. Pakistan will be very, very careful on this issue. One option before us is the option we have taken in the past that we keep getting punished or the other is that we take them on. Today the security situation has worsened and there are sleeper cells in every one of our cities," Chandra warned.
"We also need to appreciate that given Pakistan suffers from a flawed DNA and dialogue will not induce them to bring down terrorism. We have been talking to Pakistan for the last 70 years to no avail. Dialogue only serves Pakistan’s purpose to lull us into a sense of complacency and to persuade the international community about its peaceful intentions so that they can continue to receive military aid from them," he said.
Some of the signatories of the earlier document included Air Marshal Satish Inamdar, former vice chief of Air Staff, Brig Gurmeet Kanwal, former Director Centre for Land Warfare Studies, DR Kaarthikeyan, former Director, CBI, Satish Chandra, Deputy NSA, Ambassador Rajiv Dogra, Major General ( retd) Ashok Mehta, CD Sahay, former secretary RAW, G Parthasarthy, Gen VN Sharma, former Chief of Army Staff, and former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal.
Most of these signatories believe that backsliding from the hard line approach adopted by the Modi government would be unwise at this stage. This would reinforce Pakistan’s conviction that India lacks the will to sustain such an approach and thereby encourage it to continue with its export of terror in a business as usual mode.
They also believe that an inconsistency on India’s part would damage our credibility in the international front insisting that such a policy be both multidimensional and also be market by incessant ratcheting up of pressure on Pakistan whenever so required.
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Updated Date: Mar 23, 2019 10:29:36 IST