On Tuesday, India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and General Dalbir Singh, chief of the Indian Army accused Pakistan in strong messages of waging a proxy war in Jammu & Kashmir. They said India was taking action and that the results would be visible soon. Addressing a press conference, the Army chief said that Pakistan was supporting a proxy war against India in Jammu & Kashmir and the security challenges were growing due to the “active border”. Gen. Dalbir Singh said, “Pakistan is supporting a proxy war in Jammu & Kashmir despite suffering casualties within their country. Recent strikes by terrorists reflect their desperation. It also indicates that the (terrorist) infrastructure or camps across the border are intact.” Within hours of his statement, Defence Minister Parrikar said that action was being taken and assured of results in six months. At a press conference in Lucknow he said, “On proxy war, the government is a clear about what is happening... We have taken a stand and though I would not like to tell you what is the exact action we are taking... you would be able to see the difference in six months in actual figures,” he said.
These comments have come in the wake of repeated ceasefire violations, foiled terrorist infiltration bids and terror attacks in India’s northernmost State. The Defence Minister has claimed that the difference was already visible since the number of terrorists being neutralized this year was “65 to 70 per cent more than last year”. This is a somewhat confusing statement considering that the year has just begun, and comparisons with what happened last year are rather premature. This is because even though the number of terrorist neutralized in this month alone could be 65 to 70 more than the number neutralized last year, we have no way yet of predicting what could happen in the coming months. However, what is very visible on the ground is that Pakistan has repeatedly violated both ceasefire norms and the line of control and killed not only our soldiers and BSF personnel but also many Indian civilians on our side of the intertiol border. What the average Indian will recall in the coming years is that during this critical period India was on the back foot trying to defend the country against Pakistani attacks without always succeeding and that it was Pakistan that dealt the most telling blows making it necessary for hundreds of Indian citizens to be evacuated from the border areas to safer places. There are not many reports of Indian retaliation. As for the prevention of terrorist attacks, one or perhaps two planned terrorist attacks from the Arabian Sea were successfully foiled by the Indian Coast Guard with help from the Indian vy. This is a very creditable also because this time the Indian Coast Guard and the vy did not lose any time after receiving intelligence inputs. However, one swallow does not make a summer. Besides, we have been pushed to fire–fighting action rather than proactive initiatives in dealing with Pakistan’s bellicose and malevolent posture. At the same time, there is no denying that India’s restraint in the face of very great provocation is commendable especially in the context of both countries having nuclear weapons capabilities. There is very legitimate apprehension that in the event of Pakistan’s bellicose activities going beyond the limits of tolerance, it would take very little for that country to find an excuse for starting a nuclear war. After all, compared to the losses that India is likely to sustain in the event of a nuclear war, Pakistan’s losses would be almost insignificant. And that is why perhaps it may be a better course of action for India to mark time until two things happen. The first is a much better level of Indian preparedness then we have now to protect the civilian population in the border areas from Pakistani attacks. The second is to give time for world opinion to swing strongly against Pakistan’s prolonged proxy war in Kashmir as well as Pakistan’s ibility to control its terrorist outfits. There is already egg on Pakistan’s face over what terrorists did recently in a Peshawar school attended largely by the children of Pakistan’s military officers. The time may have come for Pakistan’s armed forces to realize that they cannot continue to keep flirting with terrorists and that the time for the hard decisions against terrorists has arrived even if they have the support of the clergy in Pakistan. Meanwhile the US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that Pakistan must fight militant groups that threaten Indian, US and Afghan interests. He has also offered $250 million aid for militancy affected people and said that all terrorist groups should be targeted for the security of the region. During a joint press conference in Islamabad with Pakistan Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz on Tuesday he said that terror groups like the Tehreek–e–Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network, the Lashkar–e–Taiba (LeT) and other terrorist groups continued to pose a threat to Pakistan, its neighbours and to the US and that “all of us have a responsibility to ensure that these terrorist groups do not gain a foothold but rather are pushed back into the recesses of (Pakistan’s) memory.” One can only hope that the $250 million offered by the US for militancy affected people is not used for more weapons to terrorist groups working against India just as the US arms given to Pakistan to be used against the Soviets during their occupation of Afghanistan found their way into the hands of Pakistani terrorists working against India. The comity of tions has reached a stage when it has no way of trusting Pakistan any more.