India’s inexplicable aggression

Published: October 29, 2014
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The writer is a retired lieutenant colonel of the Pakistan Army and is currently pursuing PhD in civil-military relations from the University of Karachi

The writer is a retired lieutenant colonel of the Pakistan Army and is currently pursuing PhD in civil-military relations from the University of Karachi

Has the hotline that connects the DGMOs of India and Pakistan suddenly gone cold? And have the sector commanders also forgotten the rules of engagements across the Line of Control (LoC)? The unprovoked and excessive Indian firing that we have witnessed recently across the LoC is unprecedented, especially when the targets of such firing are innocent civilians. Why would India resort to such military methods of engagement?

More than anything else, the sudden flare-up at the LoC is a reflection of an Indian mindset that is now ready to play ball. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has returned from a very successful American visit, where he agreed to play an active role in America’s new Marshall Plan — ‘The Asian Pivot’. Ready to act as the loyal deputy, India is putting up a little show to demonstrate that the agreed-upon ceasefire in 2003 will no more be a barrier for it. This ‘military window-dressing’ is meant to demonstrate the hard Indian military power.

The strategic allies of the new Marshall Plan have agreed to expand their political and economic ties. Militarily, both India and the US have jointly agreed to fight extremism and provide a balance against China’s growing military power in the region. To do that, India needs to demonstrate that its military has not gone soft and is not ‘gun-shy’. Will the most powerful country in South Asia, with a trigger-happy army, be able to execute the American strategy in the region? Can the leadership of a country, which cannot maintain agreed-upon ceasefire agreements across the LoC and which executes the dangerous delegation of authority to its army to commit military abuses, be trusted to act as a major American partner to fight extremism in South Asia? We had Americans giving us many lectures on military morality when we were its major non-Nato ally. Will it now question this unprovoked Indian military abuse that targets innocent civilians?

It’s only during time of hostility that the traditional military command structures delegate maximum authority to the commanders on the ground. There is no doubt that the excessive use of force across the LoC, which has resulted in civilian casualties, has been subjected to ‘preliminary pre-clearance’ by the highest responsible authority in India. Soldiers only execute orders and when such orders result in the death of innocent civilians, they no more remain soldiers but become members of ‘private hit teams’, who kill people on orders of those executing the agenda of state terrorism.

India has accused Pakistan of carrying out heavy mortar shelling and firing in the Jammu and Poonch sectors. It has also accused Pakistan of infiltrating militants across the border. Such accusations are a norm. India claims that the time for such infiltration across the LoC is now — before the winter sets in. Even if we accept Indian allegations, what right does India have to target and execute innocent civilians across the border, working in the fields and residing in their houses?

Indians are internally battling the Naxalite insurgency and the Maoist movement is also active in the country. India is also home to one of the world’s largest Muslim populations. It is understandable and very much in its interest to check the rise of extremism. But to do that, it needs to engage Pakistan, not as a regional hegemon with a large standing army threatening to overrun its borders, but as a neighbour that is ready to resolve all disputes in an environment of bilateral friendship and cooperation.

The revival of the Indian economy that Prime Minister Modi promised the Indian voters and who gave him the landslide victory will not materialise by becoming a gun-toting loyal deputy marshal to the Americans in the region. India, as America’s new strategic ally and partner, may be ready to execute the US-approved shift of regional order, but it may do well to consider its political, economic, as well as military repercussions. You can change your partners, but you can never change your neighbours.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • sudeep
    Oct 29, 2014 - 2:00AM

    Mr Eshan, don’t worry about us – our economy, our muslim population, our ‘insurgency’ problem, etc. We can take care of ourselves very well, thank you.

    We have almost no trade with Pakistan, no investment flow in either direction either. So, what happens in Pakistan, or with Pakistan, has no impact on us, and I presume vice-versa. Further, muslim population in India is first Indian, then muslim. Yes, I realize this may be an alien concept for you

    The point is – we do not need peace at our border to grow. Yes, it would certainly be welcome to have peace – who would not want that

    And that is the KEY takeaway for Pakistan military. The rules have changed. Congress is out – and is never coming back – ever.

    So, this is the new rule – don’t push terrorists into India under cover of border firing – or else, face massive retaliation.

    Please don’t treat this as a threat – although it may seem like that. Its simply self-defense. Also, it is in interest of Pakistan too – you really don’t want another terrorist flareup in India – the consequences will not be pleasant for everybody. So, why go there? Recommend

  • Np
    Oct 29, 2014 - 2:37AM

    “It’s only during time of hostility that the traditional military command structures delegate maximum authority to the commanders on the ground. There is no doubt that the excessive use of force across the LoC, which has resulted in civilian casualties, has been subjected to ‘preliminary pre-clearance’ by the highest responsible authority in India”.

    There has been an ever increasing escalation in terms of ceasefire violations by Pakistan. It is not just firing across LOC but the egregious nature of violations which is very noticeable in the last 2 years. In Jan 2013, 2 Indian soldiers were beheaded. In August 2013, 5 Indian soldiers were ambushed and killed and in Oct 2014, Pakistan killed 5 Indian civilians. India considers this to be a hostile act. The Indian defense minister has said that if Pakistan continues with its adventurism, it will make the cost unaffordable for Pakistan. This and ony this is the reason for the robust response you saw this time. It has nothing to do with being American deputy. India has always been non aligned and never rented its army to get favors from big powers.

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  • Cool Henry
    Oct 29, 2014 - 2:56AM

    The author has listed out the travails of India that it’s govt needs to focus it’s energies on. But, isn’t it also true that his former employers have a record of mischief making – Kargil was a good example?

    So, I am more inclined to believe the Indian version thank the Pakistani version.

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  • Asok
    Oct 29, 2014 - 3:10AM

    There is nothing inexplicable about it.

    The current government realized that the previous governments policy of appeasement and turning a blind eye to ceasefire violations by Pakistan hasn’t yielded any benefit to India. Pakistan wouldn’t even push through a simple thing like MFN status despite all this friendliness. So the current government gave the army authorization to retaliate to firing at the border.

    That is all.

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  • Sundar
    Oct 29, 2014 - 3:30AM

    Just because you keep parroting lies like ‘unprovoked’, nobody is going to believe Pakistan.

    ….what right does India have to target and execute innocent civilians across the border,.…..

    What right does Pakistan have to initiate border firing to push terrorists inside India?
    What right does Pakistan have to practice terrorism as a state policy towards India and Afghanistan?
    What right does Pakistan army have to do Kargil when India extended the hand of friendship?

    The retired military guy should be a given a noble price for his invention that neighbours cannot be changed.

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  • Anil
    Oct 29, 2014 - 4:52AM

    The author preempts Indian thought process as Pakistan would do in similar circumstances I.e. play deputy to US. But India is not Pakistan.

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  • Sid
    Oct 29, 2014 - 9:51AM

    @Ehsan: Are you calling Indian army firing across border “unprovoked” because you know so or because you are told so ? Is your opinion just stemming out of your blind belief in your military institutions or by hard facts ? It sounds like quite a convenient assumption that Indian army is purposely firing at innocent civilians. Question is what are your innocent citizen doing so close to the border where there is active shelling going on ? Indian government shifted it’s population away from the border to protect it from Pakistani shelling. Does your government care less about it’s citizens ? Is it allowing them to die just to create news and gather sympathy from clueless citizens whose only knowledge about whats going on near LoC is from ISPR and ministers statements ? Ponder over this point. And I do expect your reply for sake of open minded debate.

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  • Ranbir Singh Khokhar
    Oct 29, 2014 - 10:15AM

    stop writing rubbish and instead preach your country to become civilized nation which is currently in the list to rogue nations, threatening a peaceful country with nuclear weapons is not the act of a civilized nation.On the economic front your country is on ventilator of international aid and IMF/world bank loans which is being used to pay salaries to your forces and purchase ammunition and wage low intensity and proxy wars against India.

    Recommend

  • chandran
    Oct 29, 2014 - 11:10AM

    You are wrong sir, our relation with US always mind the gap relation. We never move
    close to Americans. There are lots of cultural difference between us. But the Russians
    is our trusted friend

    Recommend

  • TiffinBox
    Oct 29, 2014 - 11:55AM

    Any insight on Iran ?

    Recommend

  • Oct 29, 2014 - 12:23PM

    Nice story,seems like he wake up on the morning and went straight to computer to write story of dream

    Recommend

  • zoro
    Oct 29, 2014 - 12:40PM

    This op-ed definately has an entertainment value … Keep it up …

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  • Professor
    Oct 29, 2014 - 2:27PM

    Poor Pakistan ! All the neighbors are tormenting it by launching unprovoked attacks !!

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  • unbelievable
    Oct 29, 2014 - 3:05PM

    Classic Pakistan — India defends itself so now it’s the poodle of the USA. Grow up. Maybe your neighbors are just tired of your duplicitous behavior and have said ENOUGH!

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  • Haider
    Oct 30, 2014 - 6:19PM

    What a co incidence Modi meets Obama..Rise in Drone attacks and unprovoked firing by India..Many Indians say No one takes Pakistan seriously.Reading and commenting on Pakistani news channels is itself a proof that you still Pakistan seriouslyRecommend

  • J
    Oct 31, 2014 - 7:56AM

    Priceless to blame the firm Indian response to Pakistani aggression as evidence of some sinister IndoAmerican plan to police dominate the region. Indians have always wanted peace with Pakistan, I imagine most Pakistanis want peace with India but sadly one institution in Pakistan has always benifitted from the tension. And sadly they and not Pakistan’s government call(fire) the shots when it comes to foreign policy.

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