Four-pronged Strategy is Necessary to Checkmate Pak’s Deep State

Four-pronged Strategy is Necessary to Checkmate Pak’s Deep State

STRATEGIES Tactical assertiveness on LoC; covert ops to neutralise terror leaders; bolstering counter-infiltration grids; Pak’s economic strangulation & diplomatic isolation

Gurmeet Kanwal

The attack on the family quarters of the military camp at Sunjwan by ISI-backed and Masood Azhar-led Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists, which led to the death of five soldiers and one civilian and injuries to several soldiers and their family members, calls for serious introspection.

After the terrorist attack at the military camp at Uri in September 2016, India had adopted a policy of tactical assertiveness under the umbrella of strategic restraint. Surgical strikes by Special Forces on terrorist training camps at multiple points across the LoC were followed by artillery fire assaults. Direct firing weapons were also used to dominate the LoC.

The aim was to inflict punishment on the Pakistan army deployed on the LoC with a view to raising its cost for waging a war against India through asymmetric means like jihadi terrorists. Clearly, the quantum of punishment inflicted was inadequate as attempts at infiltration and terrorist strikes in the hinterland have not only continued, but have risen in number in 2017.

There is an inescapable necessity to progressively raise the cost for Pakistan’s ‘deep state’ (the army and the ISI) till it becomes prohibitive and it pleads for peace. This can be done by employing India’s firepower superiority to destroy Pakistani posts on the LoC and military infrastructure while taking care to avoid collateral damage.

Simultaneously, concerted efforts need to be made to enhance the security potential of military camps and airbases near the LoC and the international boundary in J&K. Most of these are protected merely by a thin barbed wire fence and have rudimentary access control systems, making them vulnerable to attacks by determined Fedayeen.

What is required is to construct a well-lit, high boundary wall with a barbed wire fence on top and electronic surveillance, including a CCTV network. The quick reaction teams must be equipped with suitable protective gear and night-vision devices. Constant patrolling of vulnerable areas will pay handsome dividends. Civilian areas adjacent to military camps should be patrolled by civilian volunteers.

After the attacks at the Pathankot airbase, the Ministry of Defence had appointed a committee headed by a former Army Vice-Chief to assess the shortcomings and recommend suitable measures to improve the security of military bases. Ironically, the government is reported to have sanctioned a sum of ?1,487 crore to beef up security just a few days before the attack at Sunjwan.

As for the larger picture, the present Pakistan army leadership does not appear to be inclined to put an end to cross-border terrorism and negotiate a peaceful resolution of disputes. A four-pronged strategy is necessary to checkmate Pakistan’s deep state: progressively greater tactical assertiveness on the LoC; covert operations to neutralise the leaders of terrorist organisations; further bolstering of the counter-infiltration and counter-insurgency grids, including enhanced use of electronic surveillance systems; and, economic strangulation and diplomatic isolation of Pakistan.

The writer is Distinguished Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Views are personal.