February 18, 2019
The government refuses to accept that its stubborn approach fertilises the soil for terror.
First light on Friday virtually shut the window on an immediate strike to counter the outrage at Pulwama, so now there will be the routine high-level security meetings, visits to the site where a car bomb took the lives of some 40 CRPF personnel, etc, and hopefully the think-tank on national security will formulate and implement a strategy that will go beyond avenging the deaths ~ counting bodies is a zero-sum game.
For the national mood demands that Pakistan, the promoter and protector of terrorist outfits, is made to pay a price that truly hurts. Political rhetoric has lost its credibility, as have diplomatic sweet-nothings: India has bled enough. At the same time it remains a matter for regret that despite frequent terror attacks the Indian forces have not developed a powerful counterpunch that could have been delivered within hours of a terror raid.
While the planning for a reprisal must be left to the professionals, care will have to be taken to avert the debilitating overlap between military and political objectives, which has become a painful reality. Suggestions from the hawks range from launching cruise missiles to take out Jaish-e- Mohammad/Lashkar leadership or using Indian agents to attain the same objectives, to capturing and holding large chunks of Pakistani territory and then exacting a price higher than what was gained from 90,000 prisoners-of-war in 1972.
At the same time internal incompetence cannot be overlooked. Transporting some 2,500 jawans in soft-skinned vehicles in over 70 lorries needs examination. Could they not have been airlifted? Could the convoy not have been split up, and the troops not asked to take a 15-hour trip ~ fatigue had possibly reduced their alertness when they passed through a militant-infested area. The effectiveness of “sanitising” the highway requires re-evaluation. And did the Army relax because it was a CRPF movement?
Questions must also be answered from where so much explosive was acquired, and how did the terrorist-vehicle run through police checks and position itself so effectively. Terrorism is no stranger to J&K, but no foolproof intelligence/security counter-measures have been developed. Let us remember a local militant “delivered” the car bomb even though a Pakistan-based agency claimed responsibility. To dissect the political blame-game would be futile, all parties condemn themselves.
Even after Pulwama the cross-fire did not abate. The thrust on muscle has failed, no serious attempt has been made to divorce the common folk from the militant ~ has the Special Representative abandoned his token exercise ~ and the home minister’s frequent claim to have gained the upper-hand stands exposed at Pulwama.
Alas, the government refuses to accept that its stubborn approach fertilises the soil for terror. Kashmir-policy demands an overhaul, even if that proves an embarrassment to Raisina Hill. Call them “martyrs” or “bravehearts” ~ they are all victims of New Delhi’s sustained, callous, ineptitude.