- By Sajjad Shaukat
Indian journalist Ajai Shukla who is a retired Colonel of Indian Army and writes articles on defense policy has exposed Indian designs against Pakistan in the aftermath of the Uri base terror attack.
In his article, under the caption Uri attack: Military Reviews ‘Escalation Ladder’ which was published in the Business Standard on September 21, 2016 also reproduced on the website http://ajaishukla.blogspot.com/2016/09/after-uri-indias-military-reviews.html , Ajai Shukla disclosed the steps which India will take by manipulating the Uri base attacks. In this regard, he wrote, “The strike by jihadi militants on Sunday (September 18, this year) on an army camp near Uri, in which 18 soldiers were killed and 29 injured, has inflamed tensions along the Line of Control (LoC)—On Tuesday, the Army shot down eight Pakistani militants after intercepting a 15-strong group that was discovered infiltrating from” Pakistani side of Kashmir.
He elaborated, “With public opinion and the media aroused, and with Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowing to punish those responsible; and the army’s top operations officer declaring the military would retaliate at a time and place of its choosing, both sides of the LOC are bracing for what might come. New Delhi has pinned the attack on the Lashkar-e-Toiba, a militia controlled by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), a wing of the Pakistani Army. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has declared Pakistan a “terrorist state” and the Indian Army, already grappling with public turmoil in the Kashmir Valley, is evaluating options to extract revenge for Uri…Pakistan presents an easy target for an Indian diplomatic offensive against its terror-friendly ways, in western capitals and multilateral forums. However, a calibrated military riposte would need more careful consideration.”
Ajai Shukla pointed out, “Business Standard has discussed India’s options with senior officers close to the planning process. All of them agree the army can easily initiate retaliation. But, thereafter, there would be two sides in the game. Escalation would be both inevitable and unpredictable. India’s first option is to retaliate through fires (the effect of weapons) without Indian forces physically crossing the LoC. This would involve “fire assaults” on targets across the border, using artillery, missiles, and multi-barrel rocket launchers and Brahmos cruise missiles for deeper-lying targets. A fire assault involves suddenly opening up intense fire with massed weapons on an unsuspecting and carefully chosen target, catching people in the open, and inflicting heavy casualties.”
He revealed, “Besides weapons, all trans-LoC retaliation would require reconnaissance assets, including satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to identify suitable targets and carry out battle damage assessment (BDA) after a strike. The BDA would determine whether the target had been adequately punished, or whether it needs to be struck again. Depending upon Pakistan’s response, fire assaults could be escalated through three stages – first targeting terrorist infrastructure, then forward Pakistan Army posts that facilitated infiltration and, finally, Pakistani headquarters (HQs) and installations in the rear. Each operational level would send a specific signal and require tailor-made diplomatic messaging to manage international opinion. To absorb the inevitable retaliation, the Indian military would need to anticipate and plan appropriately. In keeping with the theory of “escalation dominance”, the military would seek to dominate each step of the escalation ladder. This would discourage Pakistan from escalating the exchange.”
According to Shukla, “The next level of escalation would involve physically moving troops—first aircraft and then, if necessary, ground forces—to attack across the LoC. To manage the risks, India would signal a purely punitive intent, with no intention to actually hold ground across the LoC. Naturally, aircraft and troops that cross the LoC carry the risk of being captured. India’s military would pre-position “search and rescue” (SAR) units, equipped with helicopters, to retrieve personnel shot down across the LoC.”
He said, “The third level of escalation would involve the capture and occupation of territory across the LoC, such as vulnerable pockets where the border protrudes into India, or enclaves on the Indian side of a river or stream. This would be a significant escalation and a violation of the Shimla Agreement, which prohibits either side from changing the status quo. Deeper attacks would require India to mobilise reserves, including fire support assets, as well as the air force.”
Ajai Shukla realized by saying, “Longstanding intelligence and military assessments indicate that any Indian capture of significant Pakistani territory would trigger a nuclear threat from that country. The final level of escalation, i.e. Indian offensive operations across the settled international boundary between India and Pakistan—the so-called Radcliffe Line—would certainly violate the Pakistan Army’s nuclear threshold, eliciting a threat to use nuclear weapons. Several Indian strategic planners insist a Pakistani threat would be a bluff. However, the diplomatic pressure on New Delhi would be intense, and it remains unlikely that India’s leadership would successfully resist it.”
In fact, with the help of Indian intelligence agencies, particularly RAW, India has itself arranged the Uri Base attack not only to defame Pakistan, but also to achieve a number of sinister aims.
In wake of new phase of uprising after July 8, 2016 against the martyrdom of the young Kashmir leader Burhan Wani by the Indian security forces in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), pressure on the Indian government led by BJP Modi has been mounting both domestically and internationally. And war of liberation in the Indian held Kashmir has been accelerated despite continued sieges and prolonged curfew.
Hence, in order to deflect the attention its public and international community from the reality of Kashmir movement and Indian atrocities on the innocent Kashmiris, India has created war-like situation against Pakistan by accusing the latter for infiltration of the militants and role of ISI.
As per leaked plans of Ajai Shukla, India claimed on September 29, 2016 that it carried out surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads across the LoC in Pakistani side of Kashmir and inflicted heavy casualties.
On the other side, Pakistan Army released identities of two soldiers, who embraced martyrdom in unprovoked Indian shelling on Pakistani border posts along LoC.
In a statement, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) rejected Indian claims, saying there has been no surgical strike by India, instead there had been cross border fire initiated and conducted by India. Pakistani troops befittingly responded to Indian unprovoked firing across the LoC.
The statement said, “The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by Indian to create false effects. This quest by Indian establishment to create media hype by rebranding cross border fire as surgical strike is a fabrication of truth. Pakistan has made it clear that if there is a surgical strike on Pakistani soil, same will be strongly responded.”
And Indian soldier has been captured by the Pakistan army, while Indian soldiers have also been killed in the episode of firing across the Line of Control.
DG Lt. Gen, Asim Saleem Bajwa said on October 1, 2016 that the military was certain of India having suffered casualties and was hiding details of it. He reiterated that the country’s armed forces were fully prepared to respond to any aggression. He further stated that again, Pakistani troops had mounted a befitting response to Indian firing along the LoC early on October 1.
However, India has deliberately creaking war-like situation against Pakistan. Hence, with the SAAR summit scheduled in Islamabad in November has been postponed, under a shadow following a boycott by India, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. On September 30, 2016, New Delhi also shut down the Friendship Bus Service which runs between Lahore and Amritsar. Earlier, following war-mongering diplomacy, Indian also threatened to dissolve the Indus Water Treaty of 1960. Under the treaty, Pakistan received exclusive use of waters from the Indus and its westward flowing tributaries, the Jhelum and Chenab, while the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers were allocated for India’s use. Just two days before the Uri attack, an Indian author, Brahma Chellaney, wrote that, “India should hold out a credible threat of drawing a clear linkage between Pakistan’s right to unlimited water inflows and its responsibility not to cause harm to its upper riparian.” The World Bank is guarantor of this treaty and sets up an adjudicator in case of disputes. However, by stopping the flow of those rivers which take origin from the Indian controlled Kashmir, India wants to use water as a weapon.
It is notable that in his first public address in Kerala on September 24, 2016, following the Indian-arranged drama of the Uri attack, Prime Minister Modi threatened Pakistan of “completely isolating it globally.”
Now, latest report suggests that India has started mobilization of troops near the LoC to wage a limited war with Pakistan, while considering surgical strikes on the Azad Kashmir.
Pakistan has also taken defensive steps to meet any prospective aggression or surgical strikes by New Delhi. Taking strict notice of the hostile narrative, being planned by India in the pretext of the Uri base attack, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif made it clear on September 19 by saying, “Let me reiterate that our armed forces stand fully capable to defeat all sorts of external aggression.”
In this respect, Gen, Raheel Sharif, while addressing a US CENTCOM conference in Germany on September 26, this year said, “India is not serious to resolve the Kashmir issue…India’s premier spy agency of spilling the blood of innocents through an indirect strategy.”
Nevertheless, it is wishful thinking of the BJP leaders that they can wage a conventional war or limited war with Pakistan. While both the neighboring adversaries are nuclear powers, India is neglecting the principles of deterrence, known as ‘balance of terror.’
Many occasions came between Pakistan and India like the post-Mumbai terror attacks of 2008 (Which were also arranged by Indian security agencies) when New Delhi started a blame game against Islamabad in wake of its highly provocative actions like mobilization of troops. Indian rulers had intended to implement their doctrine of limited war in Kashmir.
Islamabad had also taken defensive steps to meet any Indian prospective aggression or surgical strikes. But, India failed in implementing its aggressive plans, because Pakistan also possesses atomic weapons.
In this connection, Indian defense analyst Ajai Shukla has already disclosed Indian steps and sinister designs against Islamabad.
Nonetheless, in the present circumstances, the BJP-led Modi government is badly mistaken, if it overestimates India’s power and underestimates Pakistan’s power. As Pakistan lacks conventional forces and weapons vis-à-vis India, so, in case of a prolonged conflict, Pakistan will have to use nuclear weapons and missiles which could destroy whole of India, resulting into Indian political suicide.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations