In the last seven years, there have been as many as 20 major attacks of this nature in the State of J&K by terrorists groups sponsored by Pakistan.
| By Air Marshal B.K. Pandey (Retd)
Former Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Training Command, IAF
The peace and serenity of Uri, a small town on the banks of river Jhelum in the district of Baramulla in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), which is near the Line of Control (LOC), was brutally shattered in the wee hours of the morning of September 18, 2016. A band of suspected “fidayeen” or a suicide squad from across the LOC , in a clandestine manner, gained entry into the administrative area of the Brigade headquarters located in this small town of North Kashmir. The terrorists lobbed grenades on the fuel storage which resulted in massive explosions and widespread fire that engulfed the tents that housed soldiers, 17 of whom were martyred and many seriously injured. The four terrorists involved were finally gunned down.
While this episode has caused a nationwide distress especially at the loss of our gallant soldiers, there is really nothing new or novel about it. In the last seven years, there have been as many as 20 major attacks of this nature in the State of J&K by terrorists groups sponsored by Pakistan. The last such attack was mounted by six Pakistan supported terrorist on the night of January 01/02, 2016 against Air Force Station Pathankot. All six terrorists were gunned down in a prolonged battle; but tragically, the nation lost seven of its brave soldiers guarding this vital installation. As has been the practice, after every episode of this kind, there is considerable rhetoric from the highest echelons of the Government about the resolves to give Pakistan a befitting reply. But there is no follow up action on the ground, at least not available in public domain. In this episode too, there is once again talk of appropriate response to Pakistan; but from the statements emanating from the different sections of the establishment, it appears that the Government is quite unsure of the right and effective course of action.
It is abundantly clear that the root cause of the problems in J&K that ultimately impinges on national security, is the partition of India.
Ever since Independence and the accompanying partition, India has fought four major wars with people who were once a part of this nation. Besides, for nearly two decades, there has been an ongoing proxy war against India ostensibly over the State of J&K. All this has been at enormous cost in terms of lives and resources on both sides of the border. Besides, China, a recognised regional power and aspiring to emerge as a superpower to even challenge in due course, the might of the United States of America, has been effectively exploiting the situation through collaboration with Pakistan. Tragically, no amount of goodwill displayed by the Indian leadership both past and present as well as dialogue with the hostile neighbour to normalise relations, has produced any results. And as long as the hostility with Pakistan continues, one cannot hope for solution to the problem of J&K. Clearly, the time for dialogue and rhetoric is over.
There are some who would advocate a full scale war so as to teach Pakistan a lesson. Even though there have been a number of violent conflicts, today, India is not in a position to launch a full scale offensive against Pakistan primarily for two reasons. In terms of military hardware, both Indian Army and the Indian Air Force are in no shape to undertake and sustain full scale war against Pakistan. Besides, the oft repeated threat from Pakistan of nuclear retaliation is likely to inhibit the decision to go to war.
What then is the way forward? It is abundantly clear that the root cause of the problems in J&K that ultimately impinges on national security, is the partition of India. The obvious solution would then be to reverse the process of partition. The Government of the day must find ways and means to reunite India and Pakistan. While on the face of it this suggestion may be dismissed as bizarre; but there are instances in history where nations partitioned under foreign influence, have reunited. Examples are North and South Yemen, East and West Germany, North and South Vietnam. And left to themselves, there is a strong possibility that North and South Korea will also unite. After all, in all these cases, it has been a common people divided under foreign influence. And since the partition of the Indian sub-continent falls in the same country, reunification of India and Pakistan must not be regarded as being outside the realm of possibility.