Indian COAS’s hawkish bluster

  • Wiser not to test Pakistan’s resolve and deterrent capability

A sudden war of words remains a constant in Indo-Pak relations even during rare good times, but of late the statements made by responsible Indian officials reflect a particularly hostile tone and tenor. Amid RAW-NDS nexus which is a conduit for terrorist attacks and destabilising activities, Indian National Security Advisors’ public threat of independent Balochistan, Balkanisation of Pakistan (with dates!), malicious poster campaigns in Geneva, London and New York, so-called surgical strikes, causing Pakistan ‘pain’, frequent intense exchanges across the LOC (Monday’s unprovoked Indian firing in Kotli causing four martyrdoms) and now the Indian COAS’s repeated war cries, there is real danger of the psychological warfare between the two nuclear tipped neighbours turning a physical miscalculation with mind-boggling consequences. Pakistan has tragic and bitter experience of Indian animosity and opportunism in 1971, and is now extremely wary and confidently prepared for any eventuality and Indian misadventure. Once bitten, twice shy.

Generals as a rule rarely make boastful and bullying statements, being aware of the death and destruction that modern total war unleashes. The highly professional among them also realise that the best laid war plans seldom survive the first skirmish. But the ‘loose cannon’ Indian COAS, who is surprisingly venturing ostensibly in politicians’ territory, in his latest pearls of strategic wisdom, challenged to call Pakistan’s ‘nuclear bluff’ in a future cross-border operation, and also to pile up the heat on a beleaguered nation engaged in a desperate battle to eliminate terrorism within, to the ultimate benefit of the entire region and beyond. In his latest verbal swagger, one can discern the perilous ill-effect of President Trump’s unthinking New Year’s tweet targeting Pakistan and the US’s ‘do more’ and ‘Haqqani safe-havens’ propaganda, the ruling BJP’S implacable anti-Pakistan bias and CPEC nightmare, and the Indian army’s edge in conventional weaponry. While prominent Pakistani ministers, Foreign Office and army media wing have realistically countered the Indian COAS’ irresponsible remarks, the present divisiveness and in-fighting among the political fraternity no doubt also provides ammunition and encouragement to an external enemy. Still, the nuclear stakes demand that the door of dialogue be kept ajar till reason and better sense prevail.