In Kashmir, there are two kinds of wars which are running side by side. One is physical and the other is psychological. In both these wars there are three major players. These are Kashmiri separatists/terrorists, Pakistan and India. In both these wars, the first two are always together. When Pakis increase the level of physical assaults, so do the terrorists. When Pakis start shouting from the roof tops, so do the separatists. Yes, both of them do have a similar axe to grind against India, but it has to be granted to them that they are always in harmony with each other.
In the physical sphere Pakistan is the undisputed aggressor while we only retaliate from time to time. After the surgical strikes last year, our level of retaliation has gone up by a couple of notches, but just that. Moreover, those strikes too are now in the past. Much water has flowed under the bridge after that. On the borders, the latest episode is the beheading of our soldiers by regulars of Pak army. Inside the borders, the terrorists recently killed a young army officer from Kashmir Lt. Umer Fayaz who had gone to Shopian to attend his sister’s wedding. Pertinent to point out that information about the young officer was leaked to the terrorists by one of the family members or locals of that area.
At the psychological front, recent videos like the one where civilians were seen kicking a soldier and another one where a young officer, instead of opening fire, tied up a civilian to his bonnet to escape from a mob of Kashmiris, have given an impression to them that Indian army is soft and they can beat us.
As is obvious, both our antagonists have raised the level of the physical as well as the psychological attacks in the recent days. It doesn’t help matters that our TV channels bring Pakis and Kashmiri separatists to debate where they openly rant against us, making a complete mockery of our physical strength.
On the other hand, the verbal response of our govt to these latest provocations has been quite muted. Apart from the usual condemnation nothing much has been said so far. On the physical level, I’m given to believe that action against Pak posts across the border from where the Pak soldiers had come is currently taking place. In the hinterland too, cordon and search operations are on, to nab the terrorists who killed Lt Fayaz. As far as the physical war is concerned, while I’ve no doubt that the govt as well as the forces are capable of taking care of the situation, personally speaking I’d like to see that level too being raised.
At the psychological level our response has been completely wanting. The psy ops are the backbone of any warfare. This is what builds public support for the physical actions of the principal players. On the borders, it helps Pak govt to deflect attention of its people from its myriad internal problems to Kashmir. In the hinterland, it helps the terrorists to hide, sustain and lately, to even escape from the security forces with the help of locals who have now started pelting stones at our soldiers engaged in operations. Distribution of money received from Pak has also played a key role in this. Even so, it still shows a kind of brazenness on the part of the Kashmiris not seen in recent years. This is happening because Pak and separatists have managed to make give an impression to the Kashmiris that they can now win this war, although it is far from the truth. Not only this, even in mainland India, some people have started asking whether the situation is under our control or not.
Both the physical and psychological aspects have to work in tandem and complement each other. However, as things stand today, while they may not be winning the physical war they do have a strong upper hand in the psychological sphere, both at the borders as well as in the hinterland. Clearly, while both our antagonists are desperately trying to keep both those aspects in tandem with each other, we are not. The government of India needs to correct this major anomaly. Quite clearly, one surgical strike was not enough. We need to do more, and talk about it.
To achieve our desired goals, we first need to increase the level of our physical response, both on the borders as well as in the hinterland. We’ve reached a position wherein our response has to be quick, and to be meaningful, over a much larger area, again, both on the borders as well as in the hinterland. Removing Hurriyat leaders from the valley and freezing their bank accounts would go a long way to help us ease the problem. Without the local leadership and money they’d find themselves to be crippled to a large extent.
Once the physical message has been delivered, the govt then needs to up its ante on the psy front. On this front the level has to be raised by many notches. Govt spokespersons and some senior leaders have to speak out sternly and warn the brazen civilians. What the Chief of Army, General Bipin Rawat said some time ago has to be repeated over and over again. It would help if videos of our retaliatory assault actions, on the borders as well as in hinterland, are circulated to prove the point. This has to be a continuous process till the time the point is driven home. It is in this context that I say that tying up of that civilian on the bonnet of the jeep was not the appropriate response. The officer should’ve opened fire instead.
It is also obvious that these actions cannot be taken with PDP in the govt. President’s Rule is required to achieve our aim. There is no point in being good all the time. Our goodness has made us look soft and weak, which we are not. These actions would correct that anomaly as well.
Author: Lt. Col. (R) Manish Jaitly
@poorafauji Writer of “Oh My Gods” http://manishjaitly.com/
Picture Credit: Screen shot from Twitter