Punish the rogue Pak army

The body of a soldier of the Rashtriya Rifles was mutilated by a border action team (BAT) of the Pakistan army on the night of November 21-22, 2016. Earlier, on the night of October 28-29, 2016, a soldier of the Sikh Regiment was martyred while patrolling near the LoC in the Machhil sector of north Kashmir. When found, his body was discovered to be horribly mutilated. 
Suicide bombers carrying guns and grenades stormed a military base near Jammu on November 29. The same day, in a separate attack, three more militants died in another shootout near the International Border with Pakistan.
Soon after the incident in October 2016, the Indian Army’s Northern Command said in a statement that in retaliation for the brutal mutilation, four Pakistani posts in the Keran sector had been razed to the ground in a massive fire assault inflicting heavy casualties on the Pakistan army. Similar action is due again.
This is not the first time that the Pakistan army and the terrorist organisations that it nurtures have demonstrated their proclivity for acts of barbaric brutality in gross violation of the Geneva Conventions. Earlier, incidents of beheading had occurred on the LoC in 2008 and 2013.
During the Kargil conflict of 1999, the Pakistan army had mutilated the bodies of Lt Saurabh Kalia and members of his patrol and had sought to blame it on so-called Kashmiri freedom fighters. Subsequently, in an act unprecedented in the annals of military history, the Pakistan army had refused to accept its own dead of the Northern Light Infantry (NLI).
With this, the Pakistan army earned infamy as a rogue army. Its recent activities reveal it cherishes that dubious distinction. The attacks sponsored by the Pakistan army at Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Udhampur, Pampore, Uri and now at Nagrota, provide evidence that it is not an organisation that learns from its follies.
The post-Uri surgical strikes launched by India have exacerbated the civil-military divide in Pakistan. Have the Generals who rule Pakistan from the back seat at GHQ, Rawalpindi, lost the plot? Or, are they incapable of recognising their strategy of unending hostility towards India to perpetuate their own power in Pakistan’s polity has let down their country?
Even under General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the new COAS, Pakistan’s ‘deep state’—the army and the ISI—is unlikely to give up its strategy of bleeding India through a thousand cuts. It will continue its attempts to destabilise India and Afghanistan through non-state terrorist organisations like the LeT, the JeM and the Haqqani network, all of whom it calls ‘strategic assets’.
The aim of India’s counter-proxy war strategy should be to raise Pakistan’s cost for waging a proxy war. Since Uri, India has achieved limited success in isolating Pakistan internationally as a state-sponsor of terrorism. These efforts must continue, along with military and economic measures.
Carefully calibrated military measures should include artillery fire assaults, trans-LoC surgical strikes by the Special Forces and BATs and, if needed, air-to-ground strikes with precision-guided munitions from stand-off ranges. This should be supplemented by covert operations.
The punishment inflicted must be progressively toughened after each new act of terrorism till the cost is prohibitive for Pakistan. This can be implemented tactically without compromising strategic restraint. The era of accepting a ‘thousand cuts’ must be given a burial once and for all.
The author is Distinguished Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi.