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Take the war to the enemy

December 22, 2008

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New Delhi [Images] continues to fumble while India burns.

Pakistan's superior psychological warfare machinery further tied down the already overstretched Indian security forces in knots. Airports and railway stations are the new fortresses that are heavily guarded. Next will be Metro stations or shopping malls. The list is endless. This is what the enemy wants -- tire and dull the edges of the security forces of India by making them run hither and thither.

This remains the single important reason why intelligence and police machinery of the Union and the states have collapsed. Perpetual red alerts, 24x7 for the past three decades have reduced them to dysfunctional entities with no declared objectives to achieve. The ease with which Parliament or Mumbai were attacked stands witness to the fact. Worse, our leadership's response to the threat posed was too shameful to comment upon.

New Delhi is walking into the trap by superficially trying to guard every inch. Neither feasible nor a method recommended. The Indian leadership that inducted them in a marshy land of insurgency and terrorism for more than two decades without any clarity in political or military objectives is adding to the confusion of the security forces.

Forces that are inducted into battles always need clarity of purpose, military objectives spelled out and swiftness in conduct of operations to avoid demoralisation. Otherwise, battles cannot be won and there is the likelihood of the forces landing in disarray. It appears to be now happening to the Indian security apparatus on the ground.

Imagine if ten trained terrorists from Karachi can hold the financial capital of India to ransom for days, what will happen if 500 pour in from different points in to the country? They can literally bring the entire nation to its knees.

To say that the threat from radical Islam was not known despite the collapse of the intelligence machinery is not true. The very fact that the prime minister and his colleagues for many years are forced to move under heavy security blanket within their own capital city with roads lined up with policemen is a shameful declaration of the existing threat to the Union. Couple this fact with the increasing frequency of attacks by the Islamic terrorists in recent times and the entire threat perception becomes crystal clear.

To tie up security forces in knots internally to deal with the externally sponsored, trained, and petro-dollar financed terrorism exported by the Pakistan army [Images] and the Inter Services Intelligence will deaden their morale and will to fight. While there is definitely an internal dimension to security, to put the forces within on a self-destructive directionless path is exactly what the enemy wants!

Either the political set up in New Delhi has not understood this raw truth in war fighting or is too scared to take the war back to enemy territory. This war must be fought decisively in Pakistan before it engulfs the Union of India in its entirety.

Pakistan is in cahoots with other dictatorial regimes on our borders. China wants to tie down India to retain its top dog status in Asia. Maoist Nepal favours China. Bangladesh, another laboratory of radical Islam, is in connivance with these dictatorial regimes. The subtle alliance of China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal Maoists pose a combined threat to the territorial integrity of India. Of course, overtly these regimes pretend to work in isolation of each other so as not to alarm New Delhi.

To avoid destruction of our forces by deployment in unending internal circuses and before war fatigue sets in, we need to take the war imposed by radical Islam to the enemy territory. Unless the source of supply is disabled, this war cannot be won. The core group orchestrating this drama is the Pakistan army and the ISI. These external links are required to be put in disarray. This can only happen if the war is re-exported to Pakistan.

If the poisonous flow from the external links is not stopped, Indian Muslims will be radicalised, which is the primary aim of Pakistan. Similarly, a backlash from the majority that is responsible for the liberal philosophy of India can wreck the democratic set-up. Non-governance is not really an option available to the prime minister. Mumbai and other attacks mounted by terrorists on Indian cities, could not have taken place without local support. For the police or intelligence agencies to profess otherwise is untruthful.

Another falsehood perpetuated by the eternally helpless breed of Indians is that a stable Pakistan is in India's interest. It is not, stable or otherwise. Pakistan is a failed State. It is on the brink of disintegration. It simply needs to be helped to remove itself and the map redrawn. Otherwise, the cost to India will keep increasing disproportionately.

To take this war to the enemy, New Delhi needs a deliberate, graded and escalating response with a clear political and military objective to help Islamabad [Images] disintegrate:

  • Snap diplomatic relations immediately.
  • Declare Pakistan a terrorist State.
  • Discontinue all trains and bus services as well as trade and business transactions.
  • Announce renegotiations of the Indus Water Treaty as the terms unduly favour Pakistan.
  • Begin a process to regulate the water supplies and build new mechanisms to activate water flow controls.
  • Cancel permissions for over flights.
  • Seal the Nepal and Bangladesh borders on a priority basis.
  • Build a grand alliance of democracies by increasing their stakes in the burgeoning economic pie of India, to leverage their support against authoritarian regimes on our border including Pakistan.
  • Increase immediately FDI in the defence sector from 26 percent to 49 percent. This will help India to emerge as the most modern technology driven defence industry hub in Asia while making it profitable for Western companies to invest.
  • Instead of fighting at cross-purposes with Asia's largest media, harness its resources to conduct unprecedented psychological warfare. In times of war, the media is a weapon, a platform to be used intelligently to secure the national interests without attempting to hinder its freedom.

    Equip the intelligence agencies with clear directives and resources to conduct deniable acts in enemy land similar to Islamabad's terrorist acts. Thus raise the cost to the enemy and make it prohibitive for Pakistan. This will also fuel the disintegration of this tottering State. The game can be played by equal finesse by us.

    To defend the taxpayer's millions of dollars invested in Afghanistan's reconstruction programme, move two integrated divisions with substantial air element in the area, in consultation with Kabul. Let Indian pressures build up from the east and west on Pakistan so that our embassy or similar establishments are not targeted in the future.

    The Bush administration's strategy that Western forces without India's support will win in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region is misguided and counter-productive. They cannot win without New Delhi's direct involvement. The incoming Obama [Images] administration urgently needs to change this policy in Washington's interest. Similarly, New Delhi should learn to fight its own war instead of expecting others do its dirty work.

    Simultaneously equip and marshal the military forces on a war footing, removing all deficiencies including the human resources as war at an appropriate time of our choosing remains an open option.

    We should stop tying up our forces internally in an endless mind-boggling game. This will result in disintegration and ineffective security instruments available to the State. The helplessness of the under-trained and under-equipped police was on display during the attack in Mumbai. Therefore, instead of permitting our forces to disintegrate in the long term, it is sensible to take this war to Pakistan and make them pay the price.

    It is time, India woke from its slumber.

    Bharat Verma is editor, Indian Defence Review

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