What Next On The Indo-Pak Border
The Nawaz Sharif government can neither afford to ignore the army nor can it own terrorists that work in tandem with the Pakistan army in particular
Photo Credit : PTI
What next? The question has indeed assumed even greater significance in the light of the surgical strikes by the Indian Army at the terrorist camps across the LoC in the wee hours of Thursday. If the Modi government at the Centre is boasted of displaying political will by cutting Pakistan strategically to its size and the Indian Army felt elated for settling score with Pakistan-sponsored militant outfits in the backdrop of Uri attack, the hapless people of the country is awaiting answers with bated breath to the question; what the ‘salvo’ India is to drop next?
The strategic measures exercised by the government-in a run up to the counter operations against the possible threat of reprisal from Pakistan-are potent enough to gauge answers that do not, however, augur well. In a major development, the government cancelled leaves of army personnel, it initiated steps to relocate people along the border in Jammu and Punjab as well, sounded high alert across the country and beefed up security measures around Pakistan High Commission in India. These measures may amount to penultimate actions against possible retaliation by Pakistan, but they do not have tangible answers about the future course of actions that the two countries are to initiate.
The answer may be derived from the observations; what the Modi government achieved while mounting pressure on Pakistan and what constraints the Government of Pakistan are faced with to retaliate against the surgical strikes? The Modi government has, indeed, achieved targets it has set to teach defiant Pakistan a lesion and regain public confidence after Pathankot and Uri incidents in particular. But as far as war is concerned, the ball is now in the court of Pakistan. Unless Pakistan retaliates, war is a distant possibility.
Incidentally, Pakistan is no longer self-reliant to launch offensive against India and it needs China’s support to strengthen its ‘armory’ to deal with eventualities. Although China has ever been tormentor for India and its army had infiltrated into the Indian Territory through the border along the State of Arunachal Pradesh even recently, China has proposed to evolve amicable solution for the present face-off between India and Pakistan after surgical strikes by Indian Army across the LoC. In the light of the China’s statement, surgical strikes by Indian Army in Pakistan appear to have implicit impact on the dubious role of China too and it preferred to remain neutral.
More, India’s resounding success to isolate Pakistan by garnering support from the SAARC nations in particular and subsequent strategic attempts to rope in 25 countries by apprising them about rationale behind the surgical strikes across the LoC appear to have prompted China to play safe while standing by Pakistan. As such, if possibilities of threat of reprisal from Pakistan can not be ruled out, a virtual withdrawal of support by China to Pakistan at the time of crisis is potent enough to give a partial answer to questions about possibility of immediate aggression by Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the Nawaz Sharif government in Pakistan can neither afford to ignore the army nor can it own terrorists that work in tandem with the army in particular. Pakistani army is said to have refused to comply with the dictates by the government to strike back across the LoC in retaliation. Army is reluctant to go to confrontation with India without the support from China with the fear to eat a humble pie. Army is said to be apprehensive that if it loses the battle, it would not only suffer a major loss of face but would fail to consolidate grip over radical forces that are used by the Army to upset peace along the LoC and cash-in on the situation to retain its stature of sole protector of the nation in case of war. Although, on the other hand, the past bears testimony to the fact that the government in Pakistan ever refused to own casualties suffered by terrorist outfits while battling with the Indian army presumably on behalf of Pakistan, the country has history of military coups that were staged to oust elected government in the garb of protecting interests of the nation. As such, the Nawaz Sharif government may be toppled if it tried to go against wishes of the army-radical forces-nexus while working out strategies to retaliate against India.
To top it all, the question that baffles the mind of many is whether the issue of conducting operations across the LoC by India would have immunity from the charges of violation of legal sanctions granted by the world regulatory bodies- including UNO- to protect the integrity and security within the purview of one’s own territory and respect others’ sovereignty under the international law? However, India has made it clear that the surgical strikes were counter-terrorist operation and they had nothing to do with the military operation.