Date: 04/01/2016

The question begs an answer: If war is inevitable, is India prepared to deliver a CRUSHING BLOW to Pakistan so that it disappears from the surface of earth for over?

If the next war, too, ends like the previous wars, in stalemate or cease-fires, then the Indo-Pak wars will continue till one side is OBLITERATED.

Partition of India and creation of Pakistan during 1947 was equally due to the folly of Gandhi/Nehru families and Congress Party who could not judge the cleverness of the Westerners. They were also not clear about the adverse consequences accruing because of Pakistan coming into being as a "Buffer" state between the Indian sub-continent and Russia/Central Asian Countries like Afghanistan (remember Sarhadi Gandhi - Abdul Gaffar Khan), Kazakistan et al, who were and wanted to remain close to Hindustan.

No one has ever made it clear to us from Nehru/Gandhi family why did they allowed Muslims to remain in India and not them being pushed in to Pakistan when all Hindus and Sikhs were forced out of Pakistan into India as per the basic rule of the "partition"? And more and more Muslims are being allowed into Hindustan from Bangladesh and else where even now? Muslims at the time of partition were only 2.5 crores but are now over 17 crores and increasing every day.





Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi

(November 2015)


The Pakistani Mindset

Ever since the birth of Pakistan in August 1947, when it was created by partitioning India by the wily British to meet their strategic goals vis a vis the Soviet Union, Pakistan has been an intransigent state on India’s flanks. India did well to remove one of the flanks, the eastern one, in 1971, because a ‘causes belli’ had existed at that time. However, despite making overtures of peace and good neighbourliness, all efforts by India have been negated by Pakistan. The reason is that it does not suit the Pakistani elite (read army) to have good relations with India. There are many reasons for this, some purely domestic compulsions and others that have an external dimension.

It is well known that for the better part of its history, Pakistan has been ruled by its army, which fully understands that any rapprochement with India would be at the cost of its power and pelf, which it is loath to dilute in any way. Even during periods of ‘so-called’ civilian rule, the writ of the army is all pervasive in policy, security, nuclear and budget-related issues. In this kind of an internal environment, it is only naďve Indian political leaders and their diplomatic advisers who keep making peace overtures periodically with Pakistan. May be it is also on account of pressures from the USA and its Western Allies. This type of linear approach always fails or fizzles out, while the Pakistani army brass continues with its smugness and its occasional disruptive acts to ensure that all such initiatives come a cropper!

The second element of such intransigence is external support. Since the inception of Pakistan, the country has gone out of its way to firm in support for its anti-India activities of all types. Reasons for such support are varied. During the Cold War, the western nations, led by USA provided support and made Pakistan an ally with a view to keep the Soviet Union away from any access to the Indian Ocean. This support peaked after the Russian Military was deployed in Afghanistan and still continues in both economic and military terms, with the excuse that Pakistan is a front line state in the war against terrorism!

The anti-India strategies of Pakistan and China coincided in the late Fifties and early 1960’s, with the aim of ensuring that India’s power and influence was kept restrained so that it remains confined to South Asia. Pakistan’s befriending China was also to play its China Card when support from USA appeared to wane.

Amongst the lesser players supporting Pakistan are Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia, where the motives are religious funding, support to the ‘Ummah’ and banking on the Pakistani military for their security when needed from their own restive populations. Iran has played a kind of duplicitous game between India and Pakistan, but it is now obvious that Iran too is a supporter of Pakistan, its motives being nuclear weapons knowhow and ensuring the well being of the Shia’s in Baluchistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistani policy makers, including diplomats need to be commended for not losing support of USA and others even when in many cases Pakistan has behaved more as an opponent than an ally. A case in point is the so-called ‘war on terrorism’, where Pakistan has benefitted from both friends and foes!

In such a situation, where the powerful Pakistani army is sitting on the proverbial ‘pigs back’, where is the question of having genuine peace parlays with India?

Effects of International and Regional Equations

The British having always had a strategic focus ensured that their strategic aims in South Asia, along with those of their war time closest ally – USA did not get diluted when the British Empire came to an end after World War II.

The aim of the western powers has always been to ensure that the balance of power in the larger southern Asian region (from the Straits of Hormuz to the Straits of Malacca) is maintained in its favour and any attempts to change this are thwarted. Consequently, there has always been interference in the security affairs of India and Pakistan, not only in security-related (including nuclear) issues but also in economic, political, social and other issues. Witness how the Indian political leadership of that time was persuaded to go to the UN for a cease fire in Kashmir, purely to retain large parts of Kashmir with Pakistan; or turning a blind eye to the covert nuclearisation of Pakistan in the 1990’s; or the open animosity favouring Pakistan in 1971; and so on.

Pakistan has been a willing ally in furthering the security initiatives of the western powers, both against Soviet Union/Russia as well as in West Asia. In return, Pakistan has been rewarded with funds and resources that have enabled it to raise and maintain a military that is disproportionately large for its size, population and needs. It has also enabled it to make many attempts to destabilise the region in general and India in particular. This coincided with the strategic aims of the western powers to inhibit India from becoming so powerful that in time it could encroach in or threaten their spheres of influence in a rapidly changing world.

During the long instability and war in Afghanistan, Pakistan has played its cards well. While a strong government is nowhere in sight in Afghanistan, Pakistan is banking on the rule of the Taliban in the bulk of that country. However, the earlier rule of Afghanistan by the Taliban had many hiccups for Pakistan too and it is my conviction that the situation in future would be the same. Pakistan has however been successful in keeping India out of Afghanistan. Its main interest in Afghanistan is to have a pliable government, which keeps the western borders of Pakistan intact both in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan. In short, an extremist dominated and pro-Pakistan government in Afghanistan suits Pakistan; it is not bothered about what the polity of Afghanistan wants!!

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Urdu: خیبر پختونخوا ‎ ; Pashto: خیبر پښتونخوا ‎), also known as KPK, is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, located ...

Chinese influence has vastly increased in the last two decades. Some analysts feel that Pakistan will become a semi autonomous Chinese province in the next two decades or so. This is likely to have grave repercussions for India. The Pakistani Military will continue to reign supreme on the much trumped and misused Indian threat it has been claiming. At the same time, the increasing control and influence of China would greatly diminish India’s options against both our potential adversaries.


Assessing Pakistan

Pakistan needs to be seen at two levels. At one level, it appears to be at war with itself, and at the other with India. The internal security situation is terrible. Pakistan’s Kashmir and Afghanistan policies havefostered militancy, terrorism and Islamic radicalism in all parts of the country and in its neighbourood. Sectarian strife is endemic in Pakistan and the internal security situation is deteriorating rapidly.Although Pakistan is under great pressure from the international community and its neighbours to rein-in and subsequently eliminate these activities, but it has not done so and there are no indicators that it will do so in future. The Islamic terrorist outfits based in Pakistan continue to have a free rein. For the last nearly four decades, Pakistan has actively encouraged and fully supported terrorism against India.

Despite all these overt and covert activities, the Indian political leadership always extended its hand of friendship to Pakistan. This was done by all governments of India, whether leftist, socialist or rightist and even today such actions continue despite getting rebuffed by the actual powers that rule Pakistan. The major reason for such a state of affairs is that our political leaders and diplomats have been and continue to be naďve in understanding security affairs and conducting real-politic in international affairs. They also shun professional advice and rely only on loyal and sycophantic advisers, with an underlying mistrust if not fear of the men wearing military uniforms.

For a country that is less than a quarter the size of India, a population one tenth of India’s population and natural and other resources nowhere comparable to India, Pakistan maintains a massive sized military. The combined strength of the Pakistani Army, plus the huge reserves and over 300,000 paramilitary forces, which mostly operate in conjunction with the Army and are led by army officers, is colossal.

The Pakistani armed forces have received major consignments of weaponry and equipment from the West, mainly USA, either free or at subsidised prices. In recent decades, China is also supplying equipment and armament, as also collaboration in defence production and infrastructure development. In the nuclear and missile arenas, China and North Korea have transferred equipment, know-how and technology, completely disregarding accepted norms of proliferation.

Pakistan’s armed forces are fairly professional and well trained, but a large number appear to have been Islamized. The Pakistani Army is fighting a major rebellion in Balochistan for decades. It is also fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgents in the area of Waziristan andalong the Durand Line. The involvement of the Pakistan army in various aspects of governance, in addition to fighting rebels and insurgents, has undoubtedly diluted its combat potential.

The off-on peace process between India and Pakistan is a tactical ploy of Pakistan, either to get concessions or to deflect its citizens from the serious domestic problems that have been hounding the nation. Pakistan’s avowed intentions of peace are counter-balanced by its continued nurturing of the Jihadi terrorists as a hedge against India, at the behest of the Pakistani Army and the ISI.

The peace process between India and Pakistan had remarkable success at the ‘people to people’ level, but for substantive gains attitudes of those in power need to change, the baggage of the past needs to be dumped and Pakistan would have to forswear and clamp down on the terrorists who operate freely in that country; and it must stop supporting terrorists and non-state actors in totality. The spasmodic shift in Pakistani leadership’s thinking of mending fences with India is seriously constrained by the vice-like grip of its terror and religious groups. The Pakistani leadership, besides being in a denial mode regarding the terrorists and fundamentalists it is nurturing, makes periodic promises about reducing and eliminating these terrorist networks, but has failed to ‘walk the talk’.

The Reality of Pakistan

There is no major shift in Pakistan’s foreign or security policies as related to India. Pakistani periodic overtures to India and expressions of desire for peace are merely tactical responses to changing equations with the US or China at various times. For example, when the US exposes the double game of Pakistan in Afghanistan; or China is seen to be improving economic and military to military relations (border meetings and joint exercises) with India; the Pakistani leadership invariably makes overtures of peace. This dynamic policy is merely to dilute a perceived cozying up between India and these powers.

As an example, Musharraf flirted with India from 2000 to 2007 as it was a gambit to prevent a possible war on both its eastern and western fronts while Afghanistan was occupied by US troops.

The Pakistani politicians have always kowtowed to the Pakistani military and whenever any powerful politician attempted to confront the military, (s)he was brutally dealt with. Pakistan continues to remain in this state. The Pakistani generals will continue to control Pakistan’s politics, foreign policy and security policy, as they have done since at least 1977. Resultantly, Pakistan-India relations will remain a mix of tension, unease and a tenuous peace that can end whenever it suits the Pakistani military leadership.

At the domestic level, Pakistan will remain embroiled in continuous civil unrest, mainly on account of the Pakistani Army and the ISI’s policies of nurturing non-state actors. Terrorism will remain a tool of foreign and security policies, while the Pakistani military runs the Pakistani state under a façade of democratic rule. The region will remain unstable because instability is custom made to suit the Pakistani elite, both military and civilian.

The Pashtuns and Baloch citizens will remain pawns of the Pakistani establishment with the Baloch spirit being constantly targeted and Pashtuns used as cannon fodder in the name of Islam. The portents are that the Shia’s of Gilgit-Baltistan, already restive and in revolt, may well be left to be dealt with by China’s occupation forces after the latter’s military establishes itself in that area. The Pakistani economy will remain centered to serve the good of Pakistan elite.

The Pakistani state will only serve the five per cent elite of the country while the rest will get minimum support of the government. The economy, internal cohesion and social stability of Pakistan are unlikely to improve, despite the continuing infusion of aid of all types from USA, Saudi Arabia and others. The recourse to nuclear sabre-rattling will be frequent and the international community should expect nuclear brinkmanship of the worst kind.

In brief, this translates in to dark and threatening clouds over the region. Pakistan’s political economy of exporting terrorism as a foreign policy tool; massive corruption at home; and the resultant ever growing reservoir of economically deprived youngsters who will fill ranks of extremists and suicide bombers will continue and will probably increase over time.

The chances of a war between India and Pakistan will continue, due to the inability of the ruling elite of Pakistan to come to terms with geographical and political realities.

Assessing India

India is the biggest country in South Asia. It has land or sea frontiers with all its neighbors, who themselves, in most cases, have such borders only with India and not between themselves. With a population of over one billion and a huge landmass, it is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-lingual, pluralistic and secular society. It has the second largest Muslim population in the world, after Indonesia. Yet, there are hardly any Indian Muslims in international fundamentalist organizations, like Al-Qaeda, Taliban or ISIS. This is an indication of the assurance of a level-playing field; the long and continuing secular culture of India; and an enduring democracy.

India has an enviable record of no military coups, as its armed forces are completely a-political. Indeed, it can be said that India provides a model of democratic development and stability to the Third World. Despite the five wars, which India has had to fight, as a result of being aggressed upon, and attempts to destabilize India internally for the last nearly four decades, this stability has been maintained.

India has the potential to become one of the giants of the world economy. Endowed with a buge manpower and natural resources, it is already the world leader in IT software. The vibrancy of India’s economy and the resilience of its democracy have ushered in a new era of India’s regional leadership and growing role in world affairs. This is primarily due to its economic growth, political stability and the professionalism and size of the Indian military. Despite a fall in the GDP in recent years, India’s economy is steadily increasing. Foreign direct investment is so far not much, but software exports are growing rapidly.

The most impressive breakthrough has been in India’s ties with both USA and China. The centerpiece of US-India strategic ties is the agreement where India has been accorded the ‘same benefits and advantages as other nuclear states’, indirectly recognizing India as a nuclear weapon state, but we are still to see the culmination point of this deal. The US shift towards India reflects the US belief that as an emerging Asian superpower, India may also serve as a counterweight to China. The Indian caucus in the US Congress has grown, along with the Indian Diaspora living in America.

India is classified as a regional power today, but it aspires to become a major power. This can only be achieved by developing Comprehensive National Power (CNP), so that each instrument of the state, including a revamped higher defence structure, works as one. We will then be able to take smart, well-reasoned and quick decisions, especially when the country is in a crisis mode. Unfortunately, past efforts to rectify these weaknesses have been stymied by inertia; resistance to change; turf considerations; and a misplaced apprehension about the loyalty of the military.

Modernisation of the Indian Armed Forces has been slow and in fits and starts. In recent years, availability of funds has been a major constraint, with allocations for defence hovering near two per cent of the GDP. The Army is essentially organised for conventional operations, although a very large component is heavily involved in Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) operations.

The Navy and Air Force are also organised for conducting largely conventional operations. In all the three services, there has been some infusion of state-of-art equipment and armament, but much less than what is needed.

It is unfortunate that even after four full-fledged wars; one border war; and a plethora of counter-insurgency operations, where the armed forces have distinguished themselves, the nation has been unable to evolve comprehensive strategies for optimally using the military and other components of national power.

India’s military strategies need to be effective across the entire spectrum of possible conflicts, from a high intensity conventional war under the backdrop of a nuclear threat, to low intensity conflicts, as well as hybrid wars

The major lacuna in formulating security strategies is the non-existence of a formal National Security Strategy, which in turn flows from national interests and objectives. The security component of our national interests is to preserve and ensure the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the nation so that a secure and stable environment conducive to unhindered economic growth prevails. By extrapolation, the military strategy should therefore have the following components:

(a) Deterring threats and aggression, by convincing potential adversaries that the probable costs of aggression will exceed possible gains. To deter adversaries, India must have both the means and the will to respond effectively.

(b) Decisively defeat any regional adversary, if deterrence fails.

(c) Against intervention by a major power, maintaining a high level of deterrence capability.

(d) Be seen as a credible and stabilizing presence in the region.



For starters, we need to be clear that both economic development and a strong military establishment have to go hand in hand. We also need to view security in its larger context, encompassing political, economic, social, technological, environmental and of course military factors. Even energy and water availability are intrinsically linked to the security of the nation.

The history of the Indian Military testifies that it is as opposed to war as our political leadership, but a professional military has to realistically appraise both the intentions and capabilities of our potential adversaries at all times. Militaries across the world are meant for deterrence first and waging war only when deterrence fails. However, it is the bane of the Indian Military that our political leadership has failed to understand the need for a military that deters, so that waging war is avoided.

Nuclear Aspects

The May 1998 nuclear explosions by India and Pakistan placed the two countries in the exclusive club of nuclear weapon states (NWS), although the original NWS continue to place them in a separate category. The 2005 US-India treaty relating to nuclear energy for civilian use has sought to place India in yet another category, closer to the original NWS, but still outside the exclusive NWS club.

India’s nuclear policy of ‘no first use’, ‘no use against non-nuclear weapon states’ and its posture of ‘minimum nuclear deterrence’ implies, firstly- adequate nuclear readiness; secondly- political control; thirdly-main aim as dissuasion; and finally that a nuclear attack will invite a swift, massive and assured retaliatory nuclear attack, to inflict unacceptable damage on the attacker. Besides deterring potential adversaries, this policy makes it more difficult for an aggressor to justify the use of nuclear weapons and India’s retaliation can be more devastating than the initial attack. This policy is also an assertion that India is in a position to ensure that its retaliatory capacity will survive and that retaliation is certain.

Pakistan’s nuclear policy is not constrained by the ‘no first use’ concept and is based on ‘thresholds’. These have never been publicly identified, but could be broadly related to substantial loss of quality territory; major destruction of its armed forces; near-total economic isolation; or major domestic upheavals. The way Pakistan has rattled its nuclear sabre in the past, tends to indicate that there is a deliberate plan to show that its nuclear threshold is extremely low. Some analysts have wrongly concluded that even crossing the border may be a ‘red line’ of Pakistan. How can that be, when nuclear weapons are ‘last resort’ weapons? This seems to be a case of getting entangled in one’s own arguments!

Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine is based on two assumptions. Given India’s conventional superiority, nuclear weapons are seen by Pakistan as equalising the balance. They are to be used for preserving the existence of Pakistan. However, Pakistan does understand that in the remote possibility of use of a nuclear device, Pakistan will cease to exist. Pakistan is therefore unlikely to use the nuclear option.

Both India and Pakistan do not have a nuclear war fighting strategy. Therefore, it is not necessary that all wars between them will inevitably escalate to nuclear levels. In recent years, as a counter to India’s so-called and no existing ‘Cold Start’ doctrine, Pakistan has sought to propagate a view that tactical nuclear weapons (TNW’s), having sub-kiloton yields, will not invite massive retaliation, especially when used only on military targets and in their own territory. It is yet another ploy to force India to dilute its nuclear doctrine. Unfortunately, some Indian analysts seem to have bought it, despite the overwhelming evidence against it. Escalation from a conventional to a nuclear mode is essentially applicable in a situation where the adversaries have a doctrine of nuclear war fighting, as was the case during the earlier years of the Cold War. Thereafter, the policy was changed to deterrence, which eventually prevailed, because each side understood the folly of using nuclear weapons, including those with sub-nominal yields.

Keeping rhetoric, verbal statements and sabre rattling aside, both India and Pakistan know that even a single use of a nuclear weapon – whether in own or adversary’s side of the border, would invite massive retaliation and destruction, not only for both countries or substantial parts of both countries, but also have severe adverse impact for the region and many parts of the world. Consequently, it is illogical to conclude that the escalatory ladder will climb to the nuclear level as a matter of course.

The advent of nuclear weapons must not be seen as a demise of conventional wars, as Western think tanks, Pakistani analysts and some Indian analysts too would have us believe. For starters, can nuclear weapons be employed to start a war? Obviously not! These are weapons of last resort and not first resort. Consequently, a credible threat of massive retaliation should be sufficient deterrent. In my view, nuclear weapons are unlikely to be used, except in the most exceptional circumstances, as a last resort to bring to an end an exceptionally adverse politico-military situation. Even in such a situation, the devastating effects of the retaliation which will invariably follow would be more than enough to deter the use of nuclear weapons.

There is also an imaginary argument of an irrational leadership of Pakistan using nuclear weapons, despite the horrendous consequences. In today’s world, such a leadership is difficult to imagine. Although India has a highly adversarial relationship with Pakistan, there have been no occasions in the past that could be classified as grossly irrational. Hence, it could be concluded that nuclear weapons are unlikely to be employed except in the most exceptional and last resort cases, which too are difficult to envisage. The bottom line is that the realities of a nuclear holocaust would not permit the use of nuclear weapons.

The following are important reasons why Pakistan would not use the nuclear option: -

· Near parity currently prevails in conventional forces on India’s western borders, with India only enjoying a slight edge, more on account of its Naval and Air Forces. Resultantly, it is highly unlikely that the Indian military will cross any nuclear threshold of Pakistan, except in the rarest of circumstances.

· The Indian leadership will carefully weigh the nuclear aspect while formulating strategies and tasks for its forces.

· Pakistan’s capital and other thickly populated areas, where the elite of the country reside, are highly vulnerable because of their proximity to the border.

· Despite popular perception, propaganda and hype, Pakistan has not displayed irrational behaviour, though the calculations of their military and political leaders in all the five wars have gone seriously awry.

· The leadership of Pakistan must be fully aware that a nuclear strike by Pakistan would mean the end of that country, no matter what damage it could inflict on India. That is why nuclear weapons, even tactical ones, cannot be used. A rational understanding of this non-option is the whole basis of nuclear deterrence.

Consequently, it can safely be stated that nuclear war between India and Pakistan is not even a remote possibility, but rhetoric – mainly for the sake of domestic audiences – will remain. What should be of grave concern however is the proliferation of nuclear weapons and missiles; and non-state actors getting hold of them.

Options for Pakistan

Pakistan had long back come to the conclusion that in any major conventional war with India, it would always be the loser, rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding, as it could never match the Indian armed forces, both in size and quality. On account of this asymmetric reality, Pakistan had always favoured recourse to sub-conventional war. To briefly recapitulate, the invasion to capture Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) in October 1947 was by tribals, controlled by regular army personnel. In the Indo- Pak War of 1965, Pakistani troops dressed as Kashmiris were infiltrated into various parts of J&K. Thereafter, the Pakistani involvement in insurgency and terrorism in Punjab and J&K are too recent and well known. In between was the Kargil War of 1999, yet another attempt by Pakistan at launching a sub-conventional conflict, which boomeranged once again because of the resolve of the Indian Army.

Following the 1998 nuclear explosions, Pakistan seized the opportunity of propagating that conventional war was now not possible, as the likelihood of rapid escalation to the nuclear level would compel India to abandon conventional war as an option. There are, of course, serious obvious flaws in such arguments. In actuality, it is conflict at the lower end of the spectrum of conflict, along with selective conventional operations, or hybrid war that would be the preferred mode of waging war by Pakistan. Raising the specter of a nuclear war is merely a ploy to bedazzle the gullible!

Hybrid wars, as the phrase implies are conventional wars in conjunction or in tandem with low intensity conflicts. These would be of short duration, more lethal due to the availability of highly destructive technologies and carefully calibrated so that escalation is controlled.

Nuclear war was never an option and continues to be a non-option even now. Consequently, the reason for not fighting a conventional war would not be the presence of nuclear weapons but the tremendous possibilities which sub-conventional conflicts have to offer.

Options for India

Pakistan’s continuing resort to terrorism as a state policy and not paying heed to India’s countless overtures should no longer be ignored by India. For far too long, India has been in an appeasement mode, which instead of resolving issues has made Pakistan bolder, as it perceives India as a soft state, incapable of taking on the increasing perfidious actions of Pakistani policy makers. There are many options available to our policy makers, but they will need to ‘bite the bullet’ and persevere.

The first action to be taken is to rapidly modernise the Indian Military, so that its deterrence quotient increases exponentially. In the short term, this will entail sacrifices on the economic and development fronts, but the eventual pay-offs will more than offset lower levels of growth. The Indian Military is committed to the ‘Make in India’ policy of the Prime Minister, but it is a policy whose effect will only be felt after many years. If we wait for that, the security situation will not only get considerably worse for us but may also be irretrievable. In the interim, before the effect of domestic production catches up, it is imperative that modernisation of the component that is needed on the western front is carried out by imports where needed and by drastic improvement of existing domestic production agencies, mainly PSU’s, Ordnance Factories and DRDO. It is no doubt a tall order to wake up these somnolent entities, but a ‘task force’ approach, under a go-getter leadership of professionals is bound to work.

While modernisation carries on apace, the military needs to refine and change its concepts of waging war and re-adopt the offensive approach that had paid us such great dividends in 1971. Let me elaborate. In conformity with the peaceful and defensive policies of successive governments, the Indian Military had also adopted the defensive syndrome during the first three decades of our independence, resulting in mostly stalemates, as well as a few defeats. However, for the 1971 War with Pakistan, we had deliberately adopted an offensive approach, at least on the eastern front, which paid us rich dividends.

We then slipped back in to the defensive mode during the long counter insurgency operations we waged and are still waging, mainly because of constraints placed on the conduct of operations by the political masters. In 1999, when the Kargil War commenced, we were still in the defensive mode initially, but we learnt quickly and changed tack, resulting in victory. Unfortunately, when the military was again well poised to launch major offensive operations following the terrorist attack on Parliament in December 2001, the government again got cold feet and today we are back to square one!

We need to appreciate that ‘defense’ is a temporary operation of war, for stability, secure firm bases and so on. Defence does not win battles and wars, only offensives do that. It should be the aim of the military to give the offensive the eminent position it deserves in the operations of war.


The main causes for wars and conflicts between India and Pakistan would continue to be the rigid stances of the Pakistani Military, which is loath to dilute its overwhelming power and influence in every aspect of Pakistan. It will continue to employ religious extremism and non-state actors as its preferred way of waging war at the lowest end of the spectrum of conflict. At the same time, it will issue threats of escalating conflicts to the highest end of the spectrum of conflict, viz. employment of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons are no doubt the currency of power, but paradoxically they are political weapons, meant only for deterrence. They are not weapons for use. Those who think that nuclear weapons are merely many times more destructive weapons are wrong; they are on a different plane altogether.

The policy makers of India need to first formulate security strategies, bring in long-awaited changes in decision-making and become pro-active, discarding the soft approaches of the past.

Pakistani intransigence is a major obstacle and a brake that is not allowing India to reach its full potential. The earlier it is tamed or removed, the better for us. We must discard the appeasement approach and adopt the values of hard and smart powers, so that India does not lag behind and occupies its rightful place on the high table.

The writer is a former Vice Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army.