File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad | PTI
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi | PTI
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It came as a big surprise when a former Northern Army Commander said that the post-Pulwama conflict ended in a stalemate and was hence a defeat for India.

In all my interactions with past and present military commanders, I have always found them having a multi-dimensional awareness of the strategic compass of not just India, but of various theatres of the world.

But the general’s understanding of the 90-hour conflict is problematic, and confounds the tactical with the strategic, and military strategy with national strategy.

In a modern hybrid war, comprising aspects of fourth and fifth-generation warfare, military is but one aspect, albeit an important one. The economic, diplomatic, and information warfare are equally important, and so is the national will. Add to this, the fifth-generation warfare imposed on Kashmir by Pakistan, and the circle is complete.

Also read: 90-hour conflict with Pakistan ended in a stalemate and that’s a defeat for India

Military strategists have despaired for more than three decades over India’s failure to call the nuclear bluff. Ever since it became known in the late ‘80s that Pakistan was a de facto nuclear power, a collective pall of inaction took over the Indian body politic. We decided unilaterally that because the Pakistan Army was a force that glorified ‘jihad-fi-sabilillah’ (fight for the sake of Allah), it would not think twice before sending a nuke across.

If only we took care to study the Islamic doctrine carefully and matched it with the jannat the Pakistani generals created for themselves in this world, instead of seeking it in their afterlife, it would have been instantly clear that no Pakistani general would ever let go of the grand status and riches he enjoyed in this very life. So, the myth of the suicidal Pakistani general is just that, a myth.

Any sound military strategy would say that we test the theory of the enemy, in whatever small way possible. We simply went by the assumptions and the bluff and bluster thrown at us by the ‘smart’ generals from across the border. We did not cross the LoC during the Kargil War, sending an unmistakable signal to the enemy that we were scared of its nuclear madness, and that we took its suicidal narrative seriously. None of this would have come to pass if we had examined this doctrine from the standpoint of their Islamic roots and how the Pakistani generals behaved in real life. It took an air strike on Balakot to break this ‘suicidal Pakistani general’ myth.

Also read: Times Now, ET & News18 run false report on global terrorist joining Imran Khan’s party

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had the common sense and, might I say, the necessary understanding of the Islamic doctrine that the Pakistan military flaunted. This enabled him to call the nuclear bluff, and expose the limitations of the Pakistani doctrine and the ‘suicidal Pakistani general’ myth.

The Indian armed forces backed the Prime Minister by thwarting the attempts of the Pakistani military to go up the escalation ladder. The ‘suicidal’ theory can work only if Pakistan is able to achieve a quick escalation in case of a deep strike of the kind that the IAF carried out.

India managed to penetrate deep into Pakistan, beyond the LoC and into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, prevented the PAF from escalating the conflict, and exhibited tremendous superiority of its air power. Further, India achieved a complete strategic superiority over Pakistan by building economic and diplomatic pressure. All this has now restricted Pakistan’s future options severely.

So, India has achieved a lot post-Pulwama – it moved the red lines, and prepared the ground for long-term strategic solution by escalating the economic and diplomatic costs for Pakistan. Peace is anathema to the Pakistan Army, and therefore it will definitely leverage the present loss of face to grab an even larger part of the precarious finances of Pakistan, and thereby hasten its downfall.

Also read: A new survey reveals what India’s strategic community thinks about Pakistan, China and US

As I have argued in the past, Pakistan is not a normal nation-state, it is an idea predicated on Islamic theology. Pakistan Army is the self-appointed guardian of that ideology. Large sections of the Pakistani population outside its Punjab province do not buy into that ideology.

This provides India an opportunity to continue its hybrid war by raising military capacity, and through consolidation of economic power. Diplomatic and information warfare are already in place, but will get fortified even more. Our long-term strategic objective should be to destroy Pakistan as an idea. Post-Pulwama, India has made solid gains in that direction. We also need to look at issues like Article 370.

So, the first round after Pulwama has been a resounding win for India in a continuing hybrid war with Pakistan. To say it ended in a stalemate is to miss the woods for the trees. We need to push on with this trajectory.

Sanjay Dixit is an IAS officer and ex-president of Rajasthan Cricket Association. 

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  1. “Our long-term strategic objective should be to destroy Pakistan as an idea. Post-Pulwama, India has made solid gains in that direction.” Absolutely. Can anyone doubt that not having an East Pakistan on its back has made India immeasurably more secure? In the end, Pak must be dismembered into its 4 constituent parts. Most Indians do not realize that the Dalai Lama has headed a Tibetan Government in Exile in India. India needs to offer precisely the same support to the Baloch Freedom Struggle, followed by the Sind the Pashtun freedom struggles. India should fund Baloch Freedom centers in all important Western capitals so they can lobby the governments for the cause of Baloch Independence, etc. Once a clear-eyed policy is implemented toward Pak, a clear and effective strategy to deal with the Kashmir problem will become obvious and relatively easy.

  2. I agree that India has emerged as a strong Nation in our response to Pulwama. We are no longer predictable. That is definitely a gain. But linking this with Article 370 and suggesting next step in the series is abolition of that Article is not only illogical but also incongruous. The major part of the otherwise-well-written-article is about India vis-a-vis Pakistan. But the writer seems to have forgotten or ignored the fact that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. It has nothing to do with Pakistan. Therefore, attempt to link Article 370, which is basically a set of protections available to local persons, with our external policies makes no sense. We must note that protection to locals is available in several parts of the country. That is the strength of India. For example, in Lahaul & Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, we have laws to prevent alienation of land. Same in varying degrees under different laws in other areas falling under Schedule V and Schedule VI of the Constitution. These areas may not have separate Constitutions,; but clear prohibition on land transfer and an overall community identity of their being ‘special’ exists in all these areas. This is the legacy we acquired due to excluded areas and partially excluded areas of the British raj. In case of Kashmir, the land transfer restrictions were originally imposed by the Dogras after 1846 treaty of Amritsar. The political leadership of the country will have to weigh carefully whether the process of smooth integration will be hastened or reversed, if the restrictions are removed at this stage. Arriving at a solution by talking to stakeholders is the only way forward. .One can go separately into the questions as to whom these prevention of land alienation laws are actually helping or whether the locals or the tribals can get higher money if the restrictions are removed or whether the restrictions can be tweaked in a graded manner depending on the education, entrepreneurship abilities and qualifications of the person concerned, so that he or she is not deprived of opportunities for investment through bank loans etc. That has to happen in consultation with the communities concerned, over a period of time and through the real spirit of PESA. But would be purely an internal matter of India. Such discourses have nothing to do with Pakistan. I would like to recall that India has not accepted the 2-Nation theory. India has opted for a Constitution that recognises fundamental rights, which include right to profess, practice and propagate any religion. India stands for plurality. Our diversity is our strength. Therefore, linking how we safeguard the interests of our local people in different parts of India with what we do to Pakistan is irrational. As the PM has asserted, our fight is not against the Kashmiris. I would like to end this with a quotation by B R Ambedkar, “Strange as it may appear, Mr. Savarkar and Mr. Jinnah, instead of being opposed to each other on the one nation versus two nations issue, are in complete agreement about it. Both agree, not only agree but insist, that there are two nations in India—one the Muslim nation and the other the Hindu nation. They differ only as regards the terms and conditions on which the two nations should live. Mr. Jinnah says India should be cut up into two, Pakistan and Hindustan, the Muslim nation to occupy Pakistan and the Hindu nation to occupy Hindustan. Mr. Savarkar on the other hand insists that, although there are two nations in India, India shall not be divided into two parts, one for Muslims and the other for the Hindus; that the two nations shall dwell in one country and shall live under the mantle of one single constitution; that the constitution shall be such that the Hindu nation will be enabled to occupy a predominant position that is due to it and the Muslim nation made to live in the position of subordinate co-operation with the Hindu nation.”

  3. Agree with the author 100%. Pakistan army is not only hurting Indian state of Kashmir with terrorism, but also hurting their own people with poverty and no human rights. Time to liberate Pakistan from its worst enemy – Pakistan’s army.

  4. I don’t buy the bullshit in this article. I hope a future non-modi govt will take this “IAS officer” to task for doing nothing but glorifying Modi. Dixit is at best a mid career officer. He has a long way to go before acquiring the sagacity of the general he is criticising. And in fact, the general wrote a very balanced article where he did applaud the willingness of the modi govt to take on pakistan, but surely the general is also right for also calling forth the suspect and poor quality preparation while doing so.

  5. @Khan: India did not start this transaction. Some folks wanted a separate country – so OK – you got it. But you guys started this insurgency in Kashmir thinking that you are entitled to it. You did not have the patience for the king to make up his mind – or to the formal ascension treaty. You could have washed your hands of Kashmir and focused on your country – but no you did not. You tried to re-use the remnants of Afghani jihad in Kashmir without luck. You also though that you can use your nuclear umbrella to save you from your terrorism activity. So we had to use your terrorists to give you a taste of your own medicine. India then had to decide that it was time to call your nuclear bluff . And that is what this was about.

    Pakistan will get destroyed the way Russia got destroyed – without a shot being fired. Unless it decides to change its character and behavior. Or until its character and behavior is changed (by further truncating it). And no it has nothing to do with 800 years of the past. Unlike Islamic republics – India and Indians don’t live in the past – and our lives are not obsessed by trying to ancient wrongs.

    And if Pakistan had in it to become modern, liberal and economically strong – don’t you think you would have already done it in 70+ years of the recent past? All that you have done is dilute whatever industry you had – and have become a begging basket case. You have lived out every prophecy that Maulana Azad had made about Pakistan – when he was arguing against partition in the 1940s.

    And the terrorism that you sowed 40 years ago is what is coming back to bite you. And that is not what I say but what Qumar Javed Bajwa said last year.

      Well… hear what your Gen. was saying… the pain which still you guys feel.
      There are many irrational on both side, good for Pakistan they are decreasing in Pak and increasingly in India…

      What mistakes we did in the past, luckily India is doing now. Results you will see soon.

      Let the Kashmiri decide what they want, why not, they can stay with India, Pak or independents. Why more than half million Indian military/para military, etc. troops in Kashmir?

      Well… only insane talk about nuclear bluff…
      nuclear deterrence is a fact which both India & Pakistan have.

  6. “Our long-term strategic objective should be to destroy Pakistan as an idea.”.

    This is thinking of Indian for last 70 years, Indian support all types of terrorism in Pakistan. Until and unless this thinking don’t change, there will be no change in the subcontinent.
    My dear, be sure if we got destroyed, Pakistan will make sure that you also get it.
    It is interesting to read that all Indian articles talk about destroying Pakistan and then they expect Pakistan don’t do anything against India? To me, maybe it is insult of more than 800 years ruling of Muslim on you, which don’t let you in peace.
    With everyday it make our resolve more strong, to make Pakistan a modern, liberal economically strong & also a strong military.

    The hate you guys are sowing in Indian society will bite you one day…just wait and see…

    • This 800 years Islamic rule is a complete myth. It is brought up by Pakistanis especially the Punjabi Mussalman in various ways – those who know that Paksitan is history say we ruled you for 800 years so please forget that and come to peace, Those that believe the pathological lies of the Pakistani Army and their madarsa education say that ‘we never lost and we will wipe out hindus and sikhs from the face of the earth’. Please see this tweet a ‘rational Pakistani’ sent to me. This shows your mentality …..
      @rotormagic @Akshayk85985965 (and 3 others) East Pakistan is stil a Muslim country….??? Our forefathers ruled over hindus for 1000 years… they could hv eliminated this filth from the face of earth 🌏 but they didn’t… we won’t repeat this mistake

  7. I thought this Ias will be dumped when Congress came to power in Rajasthan, but looks like he is still singing praise for his favorite party

  8. fooling around with nuclear options states is a joke – that is why the world tries to limit states/countries with nuclear options. amazing story. complete genious.

  9. Wow such a mature article. Just completely devoid of any substance and facts .. I wonder how did he become an IAS officers with such low intellect..

  10. The author is a part of the all-pervading obsession with Pakistan – a third-rate country which should not be of any consequence or threat to India.
    However, the real danger to India is the northern neighbour, and here the author and many like him will sing a different tune altogether.

  11. Dixit ji,had elections not in near future, your pet PM would not have ventured this. Ask your beloved pm, why didn’t he woke up earlier ? Is it proper to invite ISI for inspection of military establishment ? Why a trip to Pakistan with shawl and fruit ? Why now air attack ? SIMPLE. Your pm want to use this for winning elections. MR EX IAS OFFICER, WILL YOU STILL BET FOR YOUR PM ?

  12. Pakistan is no more suicidal than anyone else. There is zero prospect of a nuclear response to a mission like Balakot, even if the JeM camp had been obliterated, with a couple of hundred casualties. For all the talk of theatre nuclear weapons, Pakistan would not use one against India unless it stood on the verge of a complete rout. The swift Pakistani response the next day showed that there is no such overwhelming conventional superiority on our side that it would fail to respond to the Balakot strike, whatever its level of action destruction. Not responding to the Pakistani riposte shows neither country feels safe moving up the escalatory ladder. There has also been very welcome external mediation to swiftly put a lid on things going out of hand. The gracious gesture of returning Wing Commander Abhinandan on the third day has allowed both sides to step back with honour.

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