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Pakistan taken by surprise

October 9, 2014

There has been incessant firing going on in the RS Pura sector of the Jammu region along the India-Pakistan border for more than a week now. More than half a dozen civilians have dies including a 10 year old girl child on the Indian side. The difference this time has been that Pakistan Rangers and some non-state actors alongside them have targeted civilians. This has not happened before. Indian border police, the Border Security Force (BSF) retaliated in good measure. It is reliably learned that more than a dozen civilians have also perished in firing on the Pakistan side.

It is the timing of the ceasefire violations that has made many sit up and taken notice. The firing from the Pakistan side started soon after Indian Prime Minister returned from the US. The closer US-India ties made Islamabad nervous. American tilt towards India is a development that they cannot digest. Besides Modi-Netanyahu meet means an axis between India-Israel and the US. Now that is anathema for Islamic State of Pakistan. Palestinians in Gaza had captured and killed three Israeli teenagers and the response from Tel Aviv was massive. Pakistan deliberately tried to provoke India by firing at civilians and wanted to see if India had the resolve to strike back. Under the previous government in New Delhi invariably Indian forces backed down after some rudimentary response. This time it has been different. Mortar fire has been matched with mortar fire. The lethal Bramhos missile systems have been deployed along the border by India and firing from Pakistan has been matched by overwhelming fire from the Indian side. One Pakistan army spokesperson on the BBC found it incredulous that Indians are not stopping at all. The truth of the matter is that this government at the Center has given the army a free hand, their ammunition stocks have been replenished and the soldiers have been told to give Pakistan a reply they won’t forget in a hurry.

Reports are that 80-90 Pakistani posts have been destroyed and there have been heavy casualties on the Pakistan side. While it is true that Arnia in Jammu region has turned into a ghost town, across the border Pakistan is finding it difficult to match Indian response. The resolve of the Indian security forces and their overwhelming reply has made Pakistan think. They do not know how to react to Indian army and its firepower. It is true that Pakistan is not Gaza but then India is no push over either. Prime Minister Modi has said that everything will be okay in a day or two. Clearly the man has been in touch with his Western counterparts. Remarkably the US has censured Pakistan from moving its F-16 fleet from its base without American approval. Pakistan’s hands have been tied. On the other hand Indian Air Force is ready for action if there is a need to neutralize enemy positions that are a tad bit obstinate. Indian armored divisions and tanks are also on stand-by. Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitley has said that the Indian army will do its job. He has also indicated that there shall be no talks till there is peace on the borders.

Pakistan has requested for a flag meeting but the Indian side has refused pointing out that there shall be no such meetings while there is still firing going on from the Pakistan side. Indian position is that Pakistan must stop firing for India to silence its guns in response. This is something new for Pakistan and they are finding it hard to deal with the situation. It is said that there are some 450 terrorists waiting on the other side to cross over to India. But with the kind of response that has come from India it appears that the dynamics have changed and Rawalpindi must be having a rethink. Pakistan knows that they cannot afford a full scale war. They are rubbing their eyes in disbelief that India is refusing to back down. They do not want to stop firing as that would mean they have bowed down. It is a precarious situation. The dynamics have changed in the region and Islamabad seems to be living in the past. This government in New Delhi has made it clear that they shall not tolerate any nonsense from Pakistan. This is something new for Islamabad as they have seen India show restraint every-time they upped the ante. I will not be surprised if India uses air power to target some Pakistan positions. Pakistan does not have the wherewithal to respond to India adequately.

Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitely also said at the start of the skirmish that India will respond ‘adequately’. This is typical Indian understatement. While it is unclear and unknown what the casualty of the men in uniform is on either side I will not be surprised if Pakistan has suffered some major blows this time around. US has remained a dispassionate spectator and rightly so.

The Indian position clearly is that Pakistan must learn to back down. It also means that Pakistan should think at length before firing on Indian positions, especially at its civilian population in future. Will Pakistan understand the message is yet to be seen!

Addendum: Pakistan is falling back on being a nuclear weapon state to halt India in its response to their devious designs. The truth of the matter is that Pakistan nuclear arsenal has computer encryption that are with the Pentagon. Which veritably means that Pakistan cannot use its nuclear arsenal without American approval. The 1998 Chagai Hill nuclear tests were signature Chinese. Will they exhort the Chinese to use nukes against India from their soil? Now that is farfetched.

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