Ten behavioural traits India must change to successfully counter Pakistan

Here are ten behavioural traits that have not served India in the past, which must change if it has to successfully counter Pakistan.

Sanjeev Nayyar April 27, 2016 12:06:40 IST
Ten behavioural traits India must change to successfully counter Pakistan

One of the reasons why India is unable to deal with the Pakistan problem is its faulty thinking. The Pakistani establishment (ISI, Army, Government) knows how to expose our fault lines because India's behaviour is so predictable. It is able to keep India on the defensive and export terror relentlessly.

Here are ten behavioural traits that have not served India in the past, which must change if it has to successfully counter Pakistan:

1. India will not capitalise on gains made by its armed forces

Under the Tashkent Agreement, India agreed to return the strategic Haji Pir Pass, which overlooks POK, to Pakistan in exchange for an undertaking by Pakistan to abjure the use of force to settle mutual disputes and adherence to the principles of non-interference. Ditto in 1972 when Mrs Gandhi returned 92,000 prisoners of war in lieu of verbal promises.

But why is Haji Pir Pass important for India?

Ten behavioural traits India must change to successfully counter Pakistan

Representational image. AFP

Prakash Katoch, a former Lt Gen, Special Forces Indian Army, says, "Haji Pir Pass, at a height of 2637 metres, is located on the western fringe of the formidable Pir Panjal Range, which divides the Srinagar valley from the Jammu region. It is through this Pass that a wide, metalled highway connected Srinagar to Jammu via Uri-Poonch–Rajouri, over which bulk of passenger and trade traffic used to ply to and fro. This road is of strategic importance as it connects Uri with Poonch but since major portion of road is in POK, it cannot be used.

"It has been a constant source of problems for Indian security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. Trained militants have been sneaking into Kashmir Valley, Poonch and Rajouri districts. One of the most pressing operational objectives of the Northern Command, if India were to enter into a conventional battle with Pakistan, would be the strategic pass of Haji Pir, which cuts into India by severing the Poonch-Uri route and can provide access to much of POJK."

2. Indian politicians accept concessions in private not on paper and are compassionate about internal dynamics in Pakistan

Former foreign secretary JN Dixit wrote in his book Anatomy of a Flawed Inheritance, "In the run-up to the Simla Agreement, Bhutto and Mrs Gandhi had a one-to-one meeting. Bhutto acknowledged that the Kashmir issue should be finally resolved, the Line of Control could be gradually converted into a de jure border but requested that these commitments should not be included in any formal agreement because it would endanger the emerging democratic set-up in Pakistan."

Mrs Gandhi was understanding of Bhutto's compulsions and limitations without reflecting on Pakistan's dubious track record and its potential for exporting trouble.

3. Not taking advantage of Pakistan's economic difficulties

When oil prices skyrocketed to a peak of $147, it caused havoc in Pakistan's financial markets, rupee depreciated significantly and foreign exchange reserves fell drastically.

In 2012, Pakistan had defaulted in payments to foreign Independent Power Producers. Moreover, it was moving towards cancellation of LNG contracts with Qatar because it did not have the money to pay. And IMF financing could become problematic if the Americans chose to act difficult.

At that point, India could have taken advantage of Pakistan's difficulties but did not. There are some examples of how India could have hurt Pakistan without going to war.

One, it could have stopped export of livestock. This would have increased meat prices for the Pakistani aam aadmi - caused social result and reduced beef exports from Pakistan that leapfrogged post 2005 after UPA 1 permitted export of livestock.

Two, it could have increased duty on products imported Pakistan and compound its foreign exchange difficulties.

Three, India could have undertaken short-term measures to utilise its entire share of waters under the 1960 Treaty, something it is not doing. Less water to Pakistan could hit agricultural output.

Four, India could declare Pakistan a terrorist state and snap economic ties or people-to-people contact till it stopped export of terror to India and handed over Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar and Masood Azhar.

4. Indian leaders protest loudly but lack guts to hit back

Every time there is a Pakistan-sponsored terror attack, Indian leaders make tough statements, say they will retaliate but keep on dithering and are indecisive.

Atalji spoke of zero tolerance to terrorism and, to be fair, did initiate some action like not allowing Pakistan aircraft to use Indian airspace. However, actions were not sustained and India was back to square one.

Post the 2001 Parliament attack, the Indian Army launched Operation Parakram the first full-scale mobilisation since the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Former air chief AY Tipnis said at that time: "We have shown enormous patience, now it is time to show we have resolve too. Inaction is damaging our credibility; people have begun to believe India incapable of taking any action."

Our problem is that we talk more than act.

5. After every terror attack, Indians show their anger by stopping talks only to resume them again

Here is the usual sequence of events.

Pakistan supports terror attack. Indian government talks tough, promises a befitting response. (to be fair the NDA government gave BSF a free hand in second half of 2014). Government calls off talks.

After about six to nine months, stories appear about how we cannot change our neighbours, dangers of nuclear war breaking out, US expresses concern, violence in Kashmir Valley erupts since J&K problem has not been resolved or bomb blasts in Mumbai.

Next, votaries of Aman Ki Asha and Track II diplomacy get into action. Thereafter, Foreign Secretaries establish contact, news channels create bhai-bhai atmosphere. Summit meeting on the anvil, expectations skyrocket. Before talks, India makes unilateral concessions to show its peaceful intentions. Prime Ministers meet as two long-lost brothers meet in a Manmohan Desai movie and smile. All happy. Tangible results: Zero.

6. India seldom publicly reminds Pakistan of its strategic vulnerability

Time and again, Pakistan has threatened to use nuclear weapons against India. The latest threat is the use of "low yield nuclear weapons against Indian spearheads". It is a way of telling the world community that if they fail to make India resolve the J&K dispute the way Pakistan wants it, nuclear war is a distinct possibility.

It was in the context of such threats that Col Anil Athale (retired) recently wrote, "What India must do, but seldom does, is to constantly remind Pak of its strategic vulnerability. Its crucial targets and ‘heart’ that is Punjab province, is a barely 150 km deep strip of land along Indian border. Virtually every major ‘strategic’ target of Pakistan is within the range of Prithvi tactical missile of which India has aplenty. From Mendhar in J&K the Kahuta nuclear installations are within the extended range of Pinaka rockets of Indian artillery.

"Peace with India is good for Pakistan and if the whole border gets activated and India also decided to employ a strategy of ‘thousand cuts’, the much smaller and economically anemic Pakistan will wither away even without a nuclear war."

If an Indian attack is accompanied by a simultaneous attack from Afghanistan by non-state actors, then what will happen to Pakistan?

Without being boisterous, you need to show your adversary the mirror - a reality check.

7. Indian politicians have outsourced the disciplining of Pakistan to the US

It is baffling why India never declared Pakistan a terrorist state but repeatedly asked the West to do so. We refuse to fight our battles, seek support from the US, because of which we are perceived to toe their line.

This is the only plausible explanation for India's repeated U-turns on Pakistan. In this respect, Modi sarkar is no different.

8. Indians forever giving Pakistan proof of its involvement in terror activities

From the times of Khalistani and Kashmiri terror movements in the 1980s, we have evidence of Pakistan's role in exporting terror. Its involvement in Mumbai bomb blasts of 1993, 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2005 Delhi blasts etc are known, yet in 2016, we want to give them proof of their involvement in Pathankot.

Indians love this paper-bazi, playing by the rules and international law. The Pakistanis know that and also how to play around the rules.

9. India is the land of Ahimsa, will not take the battle into the enemy camp

The Pakistanis are aware of India's flawed understanding of Ahimsa (non-violence), the non-aggressive nature of Hinduism (its followers do not capitalise on weaknesses in others and keep opponents under pressure) and overwhelming desire for peace.

That is why Indians rarely talk of the conditions of Shias in Gilgit and Baltistan, that were a legal and integral part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1947, and the oppressed Baluchis.

Unlike J&K where elections were repeatedly held, "The region’s first ever elections were held in 2009 for the local legislative assembly. It did not grant Gilgit Baltistan the right to send representatives to Pakistan’s National Assembly".

10. Refusal to see relations with Pakistan through the prism of Pak-China nexus

The issue of China blocking India's bid to have JeM chief and Pathankot terror attack mastermind Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist by the UN has brought out the China-Pakistan nexus in the open. What was implicit earlier is now explicit.

However, we see relations with Pakistan through emotion - we are one people forgetting that Pakistan is a Chinese-supported tool cultivated by the latter to prevent India from realising her potential and global ambitions. The nexus compels India to prepare for a multi-front theatre in the event of war with either country.

Pakistan stands on three legs, China, Saudi Arabia and US. How would Pakistan stand without its all-weather friend whose president's aircraft was escorted by eight PAF JF-17 Thunders as it entered the Pakistani Airspace?

Amongst the many teachings of The Holy Gita and Kautilya's Arthashastra, Pakistan has incorporated two into their India containment strategy.

The Gita repeatedly refers to the importance of perseverance. Pakistan has been implementing its plan to bleed India with a thousand cuts for decades.

The six methods of foreign policy enunciated by Kautilya include "Vigraha - hostilities is another instrument of foreign policy. It is classified into open war, secret war - attacking the enemy in a variety of ways, taking him by surprise; and undeclared war, clandestine attacks using secret agents and occult practices".

Since 1947, Pakistan has followed these teachings to the T.

A solution to the Pakistan problem depends on our soch - As we think, we shall become.

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