My this post is certainly not in conjunction with PM Manmohan Singh’s pronouncement that we’ll never carry out a USA-type operation, which I without doubt think has political motive. I had written this last week for Huffington Post. When they didn’t get back I decided to post this on my own blog.
With the killing of Osama bin Laden the hardliners in India have started raising the question why India cannot act similarly and smoke out terrorists like Dawood Ibrahim and Maulana Massod Azhar. To add fire to fuel Gen V.K. Singh of India, when asked whether India could carry out such an operation, said the country is capable of successfully undertaking such strikes. This achieved nothing but give Salman Bashir, Pakistan’s foreign secretary, a high moral ground to warn India of “dire consequences” in case India indulges in such adventurism.
When asked whether the US would support India if India carried out similar operations to bring to book its own bunch of terrorists hiding in Pakistan, state department spokesperson Mark Toner said no parallel should be drawn between 9/11 and 26/11 which basically means the US wouldn’t support similar strikes from India.
It’s not that India needs a nod from the US to pursue its foreign policy and internal security matters but we live in a world of reality and the reality is that the US is much better placed compared to India to carry out such aggressive operations, both in terms of military might and geographic location. Even if the US carries out 10 such strikes Pakistan can do nothing more than protest vociferously and threaten the US government of non-cooperation in its fight against terror. An armed conflict between America and Pakistan is simply not possible from Pakistan’s point of view.
Additionally, Pakistan receives lots of financial and military aid from the US and its military and civilian establishment won’t easily give up such a lucrative arrangement. Although it has started making overtures towards another giant, China, since the Cold War days Pakistan has felt closer to America than any other country.
India on the other hand is at a great disadvantage in terms of geographic location and military power. Beyond doubt India is a stronger country but it is also a country surrounded by hostile and semi-hostile neighbours. Due to its vulnerability and a weak political establishment even smaller countries like Nepal occasionally cock a snook at it without inciting a reaction. All major countries around India — Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal — have one or another grudge to grind against the country. So there is going to be no support from its neighbours if there is a full-fledged war between the two neighbours. To make matters worse China may take this opportunity and show some military support to Pakistan by raising tension on the eastern borders. India and China have had a quarrelsome history although it is not as obsessive as between India and Pakistan.
Even if there is no regional opposition to India doing a Geronimo on Pakistan a direct conflict can be disastrous for the region considering that both the countries have nuclear capabilities. This is a threat Pakistan wields whenever India adopts aggressive posturing. And this is not just sabre rattling. Although no country in the world would want a nuclear disaster you can never be sure when it comes to Pakistan. It is a country that supports terrorism and harbors various terrorist training camps within its borders despite the fact that the same terrorists are turning against it and blowing up buildings and buses within the very country that nurtures them and provides protection to them. It’s like infecting yourself with HIV so that you can transfer it to your enemies. So with such a neighbor it is very easy to expect a nuclear stand-off in case there is an active armed conflict.
So instead of giving out martial cries (knowing quite well they are just cries) India should set up a separate ministry/agency whose only purpose is to sensitize the international community and make it aware of what Pakistan is really up to. This way even America will be forced to take notice (of course it knows but there is some hidden agenda that stops it from openly acknowledging it) and encourage Pakistan to move away from such destructive and self-defeating tactics.