Mumbai Redux: Debating India's Strategic Response Options

Major General (Retd.) G. D. Bakshi is a Senior Fellow at United Services Institution of India. He has earlier been a Research Fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.
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  • October 2009

    A year has elapsed since the Mumbai carnage and there are renewed intelligence inputs about further terrorist attacks on our seaboard. What could be the Pakistani motivations for a resumption of its terrorist assault on India ?The Military – ISI complex in Pakistan appears to be under severe pressure due to the ongoing Global War On Terror (GWOT). 28% of its rank and file are ethnic Pathans who are seriously affected by the ongoing operations in Swat and FATA. Is Pakistan seeking an Eastern diversion that can repair the fast deepening Punjabi-Pashtun faultline and enable it to call off the GWOT? For almost three decades India has surrendered the strategic and tactical initiative to Pakistan . We have waged a purely defensive battle on our own territory. Such a reactive and passive stance was understandable in the era of the 1990s when we were trying to revive and liberalise our failing economy. Such a reactive and defensive stance is unsustainable beyond a point. What then are our response options? First, a clear communication of national resolve, that such terrorist mayhems and mass Indian casualties are not acceptable any longer. The second is a rapid fielding of dominant warfighting capabilities that can deter Pakistani militaries asymmetric adventurism. India must deglitch and hasten it's defence acquisition process. Secondly,the primary flaw of Op Parakram's was it's all or nothing response. India therefore needs to evolve and enunciate a declaratory doctrine for Limited Wars against a nuclear backdrop. This must aim at raising costs for Pakistan 's sponsorship of terrorism. The Initial responses to Pakistan 's terrorist mayhems can be Air Power/Naval Power or Special Forces centric. These should be just, focused, precise and proportionate responses that serve as warning shots across the bow and place the onus of further escalation squarely on Pakistan . These do not amount to war.

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