By Vijay Darda | 15-06-2015
Without an iota of doubt the Indian Army scored a magnificent victory against the forces of terror with its surgical strike against the Naga militants along the Indo-Myanmar border. The battle capabilities of the commando force were in full evidence as it completed a neat operation within 40 minutes taking on militant hideouts.
The fact that the operation came within days of the shocking ambush of the 18 soldiers of 6 Dogra regiment, fully demonstrates the readiness of the force to strike with such high efficiency at a short notice. Even the critics of the Modi sarkar have lauded this aspect of the operation. There has never been any doubt about the superior quality of our armed forces. Befitting the status of a regional super power they have always acted with alacrity against forces inimical to national interests.
Terrorist elements have always posed a peculiar challenge that stems from their ability to use their mobility to gain tactical advantage. It is their usual practice to commit a crime in one territory and move swiftly to another and gain this advantage. This feature is common to militants in Kashmir, the left wing extremists and the insurgents in the northeast. By chasing the northeast insurgents along the Indo-Myanmar border with clinical efficiency the Indian armed forces have created a new paradigm in the war on terror.
There are two strong and distinct aspects of this strategy. It is a combination of military might and skillful diplomacy. The firepower is used in the actual elimination of the insurgents but high voltage diplomacy is used to create the right atmosphere for executing the military’s plan. Tactical cooperation between the two nations involved in the task is the key to the successful execution of such operation. India could achieve this with Myanmar because of its sound political and strategic relations with the smaller country. An agreement that the two countries shall cooperate with each other has been put in place for the last several years.
The governments of the day, irrespective of their location have to concede that using terror as an instrument of foreign policy is not going to be an effective strategy. Our hostile neighbor Pakistan continues to pay high costs for using this policy, now in terms of domestic terror violence. The sooner Islamabad realizes that it is in its own interests to cooperate with New Delhi to fight terror the better it would be for itself. Surely, they had all the right reasons to be riled when the information and broadcasting minister Rajyavardhan Rathore spoke of the message being sent through the action on the Indo-Myanmar border. Well Indian forces crossing in to Pakistan and attacking terror camps there would be seen as an act of aggression by Islamabad and the Pakistan army as long as they do not see the wisdom in joining hands with India in the battle against terror. However, should the powers that be in Pakistan really come to terms with terror reality and stop using the ‘we are victims’ jargon merely for rhetorical purposes, they would find a worthy ally in India. It may be a solution for the vexatious Indo-Pak issues.
In this context, there is a symbolic sight enacted every day at the Wagah border by the impressive men of the Border Security Force on the Indian side and the Rangers on the Pakistan side. Thousands gather every afternoon to cheer these brave men as they perform this parade in a fully synchronised manner on both the sides. There is an element of mock hostility as well, but the underlying message cannot be missed easily. The two sides though divided can put together an impressive spectacle when they act in harmony.
It is in this context that the need for dialogue cannot be overstressed. We are aware of all the provocations in the India Pakistan relations as well as the roadblocks that litter the path to any meaningful dialogue between the two sides. But the time for being bothered by such constraints is long over. It is time to realise that good neighbourly relations and unresolved conflicts can exist side by side. It would be a sign of maturity if we can live as good neighbours despite these problems.
To make a beginning we must restart the cricketing relations in right earnest and ensure that these are not disrupted by forces that stand to gain because of the hostility between the two sides. In fact Prime Minister Narendra Modi did make a good start when he invited the leaders of SAARC nations to his swearing in ceremony. The 56 inch chest should not be something to merely brag about but should also be in evidence when it comes to the capacity to take things in stride and overcome irritants. He should always be holding the upper hand in the peace process, walking ten steps ahead of Pakistan, and always make sure that Islamabad has no option but to follow Delhi’s lead. Then surely Islamabad would have to fear Delhi’s military might as well, and the Indian Army’s strike power would lend a multi-dimensional advantage.
The skill to playing big brother is lending the helping hand without bringing in the accompanying embarrassment. India has faltered in this step both in Nepal and Myanmar, but the geo strategic advantage and the duration of the relationship can neutralize this setback. A much gentler, nuanced big brother is always welcome. After all, he helps get over difficulties. But an over bearing big brother is a nuisance, better avoided. India needs to be the gentle big brother that even Pakistan should welcome. This is a diplomatic task that is easier said than done, but with the right amount of patience is doable.
Before I conclude…
Every morning the newspaper brings us tragic tales of lives lost in road accidents. Every road accident with fatality has its own sad tale of a family pushed into the throes of a life full of trauma and suffering. This indeed is a national crisis with more than 1.50 lakh deaths annually and another 5 lakh persons suffering grievous injuries. Driving on roads has to become a safe option and the government needs to take all the correctives. With our own Nagpurian Nitin Gadkari as the minister for surface transport the issue has come centre stage on the legislative agenda, but the daily death count is painful and a reminder of the reality that the change cannot be delayed any further. All the checks and balances have to be put in place soonest.