Narendra Modi's Kashmir strategy: India needs to change failing border policy on Pakistan

When it comes to dealing with Pakistan, the conventional thinking goes thus: The only thing a bully understands is force.

 Narendra Modis Kashmir strategy: India needs to change failing border policy on Pakistan

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

If they hit us hard, we should hit them back 10 times as hard, our leaders say.

Jingoistic television anchors repeat it ad nauseam. The sentiment is tweeted and shared endlessly on social media. But has anyone stopped to examine if the data backs up the proposition?

According to a report in The Indian Express, even as firing across the Line of Control (LoC) escalated dramatically since India's strikes on jihadist training camps in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir in September, the data suggests that the policy of "massive retaliation" for cross-border firing is failing to deter the Pakistan army from "harrying Indian counter-infiltration defences on the LoC."

Firing across the LoC has been on the rise —  79 incidents were recorded in 2012, 236 in  2013, 226 in 2014 and 279 in 2015 and 227 in 2016 — The Indian Express reported.

The data compiled by the Jammu and Kashmir government shows 124 exchanges of fire from 1 January to 21 June, 2017 this year alone, according to the report. So clearly, Pakistan hasn't been discouraged by the increased  back and forth on the border.

But hang on. What about the surgical strikes? They put paid to Pakistan's misadventures. Didn't they?

First let's examine the rhetoric:

In a 2011 television interview, the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi said, "Pakistan should be given an answer in the language they understand."

After the surgical strikes were conducted, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said: "Our surgical strike created havoc across border. Pakistan now knows fully well what the Indian Army is capable of." He also added, "Our army's valour is being discussed across the country these days. We used to hear earlier that Israel has done this. The nation has seen that Indian army is no less than anybody," he said.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh after the surgical strikes had said that the security situation in the Valley had improved and there had been a 45 percent decline in infiltration by terrorists from Pakistan compred to the previous year. BJP general-secretary Ram Madhav said that Modi has "walked the talk".

"PM Modi ji has walked the talk. Punishing the perpetrators of terror from across has begun," Madhav tweeted.

External affairs minister VK Singh said, “The aim of surgical strike was to convey to Pakistan that we will not accept continuance of terrorism as the new norm. Our own good faith has been amply demonstrated time and again through repeated initiatives to normalise the relationship. However, as we have often stated, talks and terror cannot go together."

Former army chief Bikram Singh told NDTV that while such strikes were conducted many times in the past with a degree of deniability, the scale of operation and the decision of the political leadership to own them publicly with a lot of maturity changed the India-Pakistan dynamics forever and took them beyond the line of restraint that had existed for decades. But did it?

What actually happened:

In June, two soldiers were killed  in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district after Pakistan's Border Action Team (BAT) attacked Army's patrol party along LoC.

On 1 May, in a cross-LoC attack by suspected Pakistani terrorists in the Krishna Ghati sector in Jammu and Kashmir, three Indian soldiers were killed, with the body of one of them being mutilated. The incident triggered outrage across the nation. On 28 October, 2016, militants attacked a post and killed an Indian Army soldier and mutilated his body close to the LoC in the Machil sector.

And the attacks continue.

A bloody history

In January 2013, Lance Naik Hemraj was killed and his body mutilated by a  Border Action Team. It also beheaded Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh. Constable Rajinder Singh of the BSF battalion suffered injuries in the attack.

In June 2008, a soldier of the 2/8 Gorkha Rifles lost his way and was captured by a Pakistani Border Action Team (BAT) in Kel sector. His body was found beheaded after a few days.

The list goes on and on. India the unstoppable force has met Pakistan the immovable object. There has been no give. Will Modi try another tack or double down?

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Jul 03, 2017 13:36:07 IST