Friday, October 4, 2013

Jammu Attacks: India  Must Act Tough    

       Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh. Hindustan Times ( Chandigarh ): 3 Oct 2013



Three Fidayeen (suicide guerrillas) from Pakistan attacked the Hiranagar police station and the officer’s mess of an army regiment at Samba in Jammu and Kashmir on September 26. Twelve Indian policemen and army personnel were killed. This is the latest act of terrorism against India by Pakistan trained terrorists.
It is difficult to say at what level in the Pakistan hierarchy this attack was ordered: some middle-level Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official, ISI headquarters or Pakistan Army Headquarters. However, what is a certainty is that the Fidayeen were trained by a Jihadi outfit such as the Lashkare-Taiba (LeT); which one it is does not matter. What is also most likely is that Pakistan Rangers manning the border opposite Hiranagar would have hosted and then made it possible for these three terrorists to sneak through the common border.


The Indian leadership needs to confront its Pakistan counterparts with these facts. If the Pakistan Prime Minister does not accept this, there should be no future summit-level talks. This is to show India’s resolve that this matter is of prime importance to us and all other issues like trade etc. are secondary. Just lodging protests and no drastic diplomatic/covert action being taken has made the Pakistan leadership quite complacent that India will not precipitate matters, come what may.
By now it should be amply clear that the policy of appeasement, only emboldens rogue elements in that country. India must develop a coherent deterrent against this unconventional threat. Mere diplomatic response of sending so-called ‘strong signals’ for decades has not worked. The threats have magnified and there is more to come after US troops exit Afghanistan. A terrorist attack on a mall on the lines of the recent one in Kenya is a distinct possibility.


The Indian leadership and polity must also realise that India has had to deploy lakhs of army troops and paramilitary forces to counter terrorism from Pakistan , which places a very heavy burden on our exchequer. The dangerous security environment also not only adversely affects the normal day-to-day life of citizens but also economic environment and tourism. This impinges on India ’s economic development.
There is, therefore, a need to concurrently implement a ‘tit for tat’ policy with the usual diplomatic exchanges. This policy will require covert actions, which have to be masterminded by intelligence agencies such as the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Every attack on India by terrorists must be responded to in kind. Where the attacks are on Indian military, a limited military response by using heavy weapons and even raids would be necessary. Let Indian politicians not get worried; there will be no war!
The Pakistan leadership which supports rogue elements must feel sufficient pain which deters them from following the policy of ‘bleeding India with thousand cuts’. So far, they are only gloating over wounds inflicted on our people and the impotence of our response.
India and Pakistan have to be neighbours for centuries. Can India continue to suffer such terrorist attacks year after year and not respond in kind? Such a soft policy will bring in a siege mentality. It will kill the self-esteem and self confidence of Indians and embolden not only Pakistan but also India ’s other neighbours to subvert the very existence of our nation.
The writer is a former signal officer-in-chief. The views expressed are personal

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