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Time to finish off the ISI!

September 21, 2016 12:34 IST

'There has to be strikes on the ISI headquarters to raze it to the ground figuratively and otherwise,' says Group Captain Murli Menon (retd).

Army soldiers in the Army Day parade 

Those of my generation have been patiently waiting for the 'final round' with Pakistan. It is all coming together now.

The audacious Uri attack and the expected always -- in-denial reactions from the Pakistan establishment to our countrywide consternation -- have set the stage for our next move on the chess board.

What the Cabinet Committee on Security decides will stay unknown till it plays out. The only thing certain now is that there will come retribution!

The job of the military, in our context, is to place options before the decision-makers in a cogent manner and then the political masters take the call.

The military's job is to stand true to the investment the nation has made in it -- in terms of manpower, equipment and training.

When such situations arise, objectivity is normally a victim. But present indicators augur well in this respect. We are clearly thinking this through.

The problem with our national military psyche so far has been the reactive and passive mindset. Much more indeed than George Tanham of RAND who accused us some years ago of not having a strategic culture, partly true, but then there's always a time to wake up from slumber.

First on our priority is to identify the most valuable target/targets across the border.

All of India's travails -- not only in Jammu and Kashmir, but all over India -- emanates from a single fortress-like building in the Aabpara precinct of Islamabad, the ISI headquarters.

This is the premise from where the entire terror machinations of our neighbour are orchestrated. That being a given, next is the key doctrinal aspect of political signalling. We have already shown our resolve to up the ante politico -- diplomatically by supporting the Baloch cause and offering asylum to their leaders.

The impact of that bold move would play out during the weeks and months to come. But the key aspect of 'political signalling' -- a key air operation for the Indian Air Force and indeed the entire military -- has now to be given wings.

To make costs prohibitive for Pakistan to play terror in our country, the ISI needs to be physically neutralised. There has to be strikes on the ISI headquarters to raze it to the ground figuratively and otherwise.

I am not going to get into the 'how' of such missions. The professionals know how to do it.

There are also ISI sectoral headquarters in Lahore, Peshawar, Karachi etc (which indeed have been often targeted by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan).

We now need to target these selectively, depending on intelligence as to which one we believe has been responsible for the terror attack in question.

We need to take a few leaves out of the counter terror manuals of successful nations like Israel and the USA (look at the rapid neutralisation of the Afghan-origin terrorist in New York City!) and start sending hard hitting political signals to the adversary.

Very clearly these are not going to be 'deniability-enabled' missions. These are meant to warn the adversary to mend its behaviour, and to be carried out repeatedly till our will is enforced.

The escalation ladder is old hat now. We should control this aspect, even if there is a need to escalate.

Along with the other economic retribution such as a sea blockade and shutting off of the Indus waters, which will bring Pakistan to its knees in no time.

The only thing we need is a tough, strong leadership which we appear to have now. In 1971, the strong Indira Gandhi-Sam Maneckshaw leadership advantages were frittered away at Simla. That surely will not happen now because too much water has flown down the terror river.

Political signalling involves the whole nation. The civil population becomes even more integrated into the warning process, dissenters and anti-nationals get marginalised and we move towards an integrated civic sense imbued society as demonstrated in New Jersey two days ago.

The naysayers would always have their forebodings for a tough Indian State. The soft option has not delivered and national pride have reached rock bottom. Let us get on with it Prime Minister Modi!

Group Captain Murli Menon (retd)
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