At last the government has come up with a strategy of “compellance” against Pakistan with the surgical strikes, but has no plan to deal with what comes after.
The import of the ‘surgical strikes’ launched by the Special Forces on night of 28-29 September, 2016, was not in the number of enemy casualties and the infrastructure destroyed or the depth and frontage of the operation or the type of weapons used.
It lay in the declaration of India’s intent for dealing with the proxy war perpetrated by Pakistan in the future. “Alea iacta est” (the die is cast), we all thought. At last a government has come up with a comprehensive political and military strategy of ‘compellence’ for dealing with Pakistan.
Pakistan’s response to the surgical strikes was in consonance with its long term strategy. The surgical strikes were denied and ridiculed, putting the onus on India to provide the details.
It responded to India’s aggressive posture along the LoC in a quid pro quo manner using matching firepower and Special Forces/Border Action Teams. Infiltration into J&K has increased and so has terrorist violence. Pakistan has made it clear that there will be no change in its strategy.
Escalatory retribution is an integral part of a strategy of ‘compellence’. In the absence of any follow up on the surgical strikes, the moot question is, does India really have a National Security Strategy to force compliance on Pakistan? The surgical strikes were a standalone and well executed tactical operation without any strategic plans to follow up and clearly, they were aimed more at the domestic audience than Pakistan.
“War is too serious to trust it to generals,” said Winston Churchill. But then, Churchill had done a spell in the army, was a war correspondent, and was the First Lord of the Admiralty, and Minister of Munitions during the First World War before influencing the strategy during the Second World War. In our case, it would be equally apt to say that National Security is too serious a business to be driven by “post-truth politics” in which bravado, rhetoric, emotions, ignorance, and impulsiveness are the main drivers and rational military counsel is either absent or ignored.