Thursday, 1 December, 2022
HomeOpinionPakistan never ‘surrendered’ in 1971. Kashmir, 26/11, Parliament show why

Pakistan never ‘surrendered’ in 1971. Kashmir, 26/11, Parliament show why

India’s armed forces have to be modernised and strengthened in conventional terms, not so much to prosecute war, but more to avert one — by deterring the enemy.

Text Size:

Forty-nine years ago, in 1971, India imposed a crushing defeat on Pakistan —  the country was split into two. Pakistan Army surrendered with 93,000 soldiers, which was the biggest ever surrender after World War II. Smarting with this humiliation, and earlier experiences of 1947 and 1965, Pakistan realised that it could not match up to India in conventional terms. Therefore, in the eighties, they adopted a different strategy — of bleeding India by a thousand cuts — based on a proxy war, using terrorism as a State policy to wear out our security forces and impose a heavy cost on India.

Also read: Indians should thank these three men for bringing 1971 Bangladesh ‘genocide’ to light

Pakistan chose a low cost option

Pakistan began supporting militancy in Punjab, all the while fostering religious and fundamentalist links with the Kashmir Valley. Pakistan had surplus ‘jehadi’ fighters, as their mission in Afghanistan was over after the Soviet withdrawal.  They also recruited and supported disgruntled youth from the Valley. Pakistan encouraged fissiparous forces in India by offering physical, moral, ideological, diplomatic and financial support to terrorism — a low cost option.

Pushing terrorists across the border or Line of Control (LoC) to perpetrate violence in India ties up a disproportionately large number of Indian troops, and has the added advantage of playing the deniability card. They actively disown the terrorists. During the Kargil War, Pakistan even disowned its regular army soldiers and refused to accept their bodies, in a bid to show that the intrusion was the handiwork of irregulars.

India obviously did no such thing. Hence, we suffered the consequences. We could only take defensive measures. And this emboldened the adversary to become more adventurous. The Mumbai bombings of 1993, Parliament attack of 2001 and 26/11 Mumbai attacks are scars hard to forget. And yet our response was less than strong. In domestic discourse, and even beyond borders, India was labelled as a soft State.

The deep State of Pakistan continued reinventing the terror tactics. Palestine intifada taught them that stone pelting is more acceptable in the Western world, which sees it as a form of unarmed protest. Eventually, stone pelting was used adroitly as a force multiplier while encounters with terrorists were in progress in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2015, we began to witness use of social media by terrorists and separatists to create anti-India narratives for radicalisation and mobilisation of mobs for stone pelting and more.

Also read: How Modi has made a ‘Nehruvian’ half-blunder on China & ignored investing in the military

India’s paradigm shift

In 2016, there was a spate of high-profile terror attacks  – Pathankot Airbase attack, and terrorists taking over 60 hostages at a six-storey building in Pampore. Uri attack in September 2016, in which we lost our 18 soldiers, was the last straw.

India decided to take the bold step of hitting at terrorist camps across the LoC in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). An even bolder step was taking the ownership of the surgical strike, in sharp contrast with the deniability card that Pakistan employs after pushing in terrorists across the LoC. This was India’s announcement to Pakistan, and to the world, that we carried out these raids in response to the terror attacks on our country, most notably Uri.

Uri brought a paradigm shift in our modus operandi in dealing with cross-border terrorism. A little over two years later, when we lost 40 CRPF men in Pulwama, true to its recently stated stand, India launched precision air strikes at a terrorist camp in Balakot, deep into Pakistani territory, beyond PoK. It was a bold attack on a pinpoint target, and once again we took ownership. India also articulated the doctrine of pre-emption — in case there is credible evidence of preparations being made to target India, we reserve the right to launch a pre-emptive strike.

India has drawn new red lines, shed the soft State tag and started using State power as a legitimate instrument for the protection of the State and furthering its objectives. But, are such strikes enough by themselves? Are we drawing wrong lessons from them?

Such strikes, whether pre-emptive or retaliatory, are not as simple as they seem. In addition to operational risks at the national level, the country has to be prepared for any response at an escalatory ladder, from a skirmish to a localised to a full-scale war. Therefore, while a bold response is a good shift to tackle the terror paradigm, our armed forces also need to be muscular and well prepared for retaliation at conventional levels.

For over a decade, India’s military modernisation has been on the back burner for many reasons. Armed forces have to be modernised and strengthened in conventional terms, not so much to prosecute war, but more to avert one — by deterring the enemy.

In the last couple of years, some serious steps have been taken on defence modernisation, and it paradoxically got an impetus due to the stand-off between India and China in Ladakh, which amply demonstrates the need to have a muscular capability, if we are to adopt a bold security policy successfully.

Lieutenant General (retd) Satish Dua @TheSatishDua was Corps Commander in Kashmir and retired as the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff. Views are personal.

Lieutenant General (retd) Dua’s new book India’s Bravehearts: Untold Stories from the Indian Army has just come out on Amazon and Flipkart.


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism


  1. Yes, we now take ownership of punitive actions such as the surgical strikes of 2016 or the Balakot air strike. But these are still reactive measures, on a relatively low scale and with questionable efficacy. And what is worse is that we are not prepared to handle the response to these actions, for instance the aerial skirmish the day after Balakot. The security establishment of the country is in poor shape, both in terms of capability but also in terms of competence, as has been shown by the PLA taking India by surprise in Ladakh at a strategic-diplomatic as well as tactical-military level. Gen. Dua is right in saying that Pakistan did not really surrender after 1971 – well, we already know that because we have all lived through the Khalistan insurgency, post-1989 Kashmir and the numerous terror attacks. So why do we not go for a proper solution, which can only be to work in a focused way toward dismembering Pakistan over the next decade or two, as the clear, unstated political goal. Proactively foment trouble in Pakistan, support secession of Baluchistan through means diplomatic and military, carry out far more robust military strikes into PoK and other parts of Pakistan using Pak-sponsored terror attacks as the trigger …. Sadly, we remain reactive, on the defensive and without a clear end goal. It must be said that we have taken some correct political steps (such as abrogation of Article 370). However, there is a glaring gap between the rhetoric and bombast we employ to rant at Pakistan and the whimper when it comes to military action – as the standoff in Ladakh shows. The real problem is that we have run the economy into the sands as a result of amateur and whimsical handling, and failed to revamp the ministry of defense. Thanks to which we are staring at a lack of financial capacity to modernize, and continue to have a bureaucratic-military establishment that is incapable of making even the procurements that we can afford without – literally – years and years of delay thanks to professional incompetence, lack of accountability and a culture of sycophancy. Yet, at least the political and intelligence-led steps to do Pakistan in from within should be within our grasp.

  2. Pakistan do not have do anything anymore you pm narendra moti doing good job by splitting india . hindutuva will be the demise of india just wait and watch.

  3. TS Darbari – Pakistan has never been equivalent to India in any way. Pakistan is not only morally corrupt but its support to terrorism is the most shameful policy adopted by its leaders. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a policy shift vis-à-vis Pakistan after the Uri terrorist attack, advocating the elimination of terrorism from the subcontinent. Like India, the rest of South Asia suffers from terrorism created and sponsored by Pakistan. After the terrorist attacks in Peshawar, Modi had stated that there is no “good” or “bad” terrorism. After repeated Pakistani intrusions in India such as the Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Uri attacks, Modi too hardened his stance and retaliated strongly with the first ever surgical strikes along the Line of Control in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. While most big powers are hesitant to openly support Modi’s anti-terrorism strategy, India’s neighbours for now are standing with it. #Ts_Darbari_Blog #TS_Darbari_News #Ts_Darbari_Views #Ts_Darbari_Blogger #TS_Darbari_Comments #Ts_Darbari_Opinion #About_TS_Darbari #TS_Darbari_Articles #Politics #Views #Comments

  4. Capitalizing on the gains made in the 71 was did not happen. Wonder if it was the obsession for of projecting itself as model victors or was it just lack of long term commitment to the self interest?
    Either way the opportunity was lost to sort out Pakistan once and for all.

  5. Everyday there has to a topic which rants about Pakistan. Why Indian media is so obsessed with Pakistan. Snap out !!!!

  6. The democracy allowing conversion from Hindu to Muslim & hardly the reverse should not be underestimated. It operates silently but surely. Mixed marriages being in favour of Muslim is also overlooked. India can pay a high price for such practices.

    India should review its conversion laws as the latter favors the extension of an Islamic empire originating from S Arabia, America’s close ally. India should also give incentives to young Indians to relocate in Kashmir. The %composition icw religion of Kashmir should reflect that of India.

  7. Print ( jihadi alqueda who ever the editors and owners you have.) I bet one day you will suffer the consiquence of the snake you feed.

  8. Not only did Pakistan surrender to India in the 1971 war, but it also got divided to half. This is the biggest loss any country got after world war II. So to say that Pakistan never surrendered is wrong. It’s the soft belly or fallacies of Indian democracy which kind of invited Pakistan to interfere. First the Khalistani movement, then the badly managed J&K election in the 1980s. These are the challenges India had to face and India did very well. It just needs one more counter-strike to crush the faulty ideology of Pakistan. In fact Pakistan will be crushed itself by its own weight with a very role played by China. India doesn’t have to do anything.

Comments are closed.

Most Popular