The Sunday morning attack on the army base in Uri near the LoC by four infiltrating terrorists of the Jaish-e-Mohammad who used under-barrel grenades and AK rifles to kill 18 personnel and injure many more has put a seal of irreversibility on India’s new policy of imposing a cost on Pakistan for the incessant use of cross-border terrorism, apparently to compel India to resume talks on Kashmir.
At the same time, India has to strengthen its internal security and safeguard its defence and strategic establishments. Both at Pathankot and Uri, there was an actionable intelligence alert and this should have led to an upgrade of perimeter security. Even where the campus is large, it is possible to secure it during the period of alert through means other than putting a brick-and-mortar wall all around. Terrorists always cover the last mile covertly and security should be effective enough to take them on frontally at the perimeter itself. This matter should be examined in depth, professionally.
India had given a long rope to Pakistan by permitting a team of Pakistan SIT to visit the Pathankot airbase but had maintained that terrorism would have to be on top of the agenda for any India-Pakistan dialogue. Unsurprisingly, it soon became clear that the Pakistan army was using the rigmarole of a probe to build up the case of denying that Pakistan had links with the Pathankot attack and that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was being what he was known to be all along -- a mere rubber stamp for the military regime.
What happened at Uri was a daringly planned ‘war like’ offensive -- the biggest terrorist action in Kashmir in years. The Pakistan army has hastened to invoke the deniability card again, notwithstanding the evidence left in this case -- radio sets, GPS devices, maps, markings on arms and ammunition and labels on food packets, to show the involvement of Pakistan. The Pakistan army, it seems, is testing India’s response to its two-fold tactic in Kashmir: Of stepping up infiltration across the LoC, on the one hand, and creating internal disturbances in the Valley by getting its agents to organise stone-throwing mobs, on the other.
The switchover to a new Pakistan policy evidently involves an appropriate military response to counter cross-border terrorism and a comprehensive diplomatic offensive to expose Pakistan as a terror state before the international community. There has to be a meaningful assessment of what is enabling the Pakistan army -- on both domestic and geo-political turfs -- to keep up its covert offensive against India. It is obvious that the Pakistan army continues to derive strength from the US-Pakistan entente and the China-Pakistan axis. It should be possible for India to convince the world at large that pursuing terrorists on and beyond the borders -- militarily or otherwise -- does not alter this country’s determination not to initiate a war.
DC Pathak is a former director of the Intelligence Bureau