Monday, September 19, 2016

Former Obama adviser said : Any military action by India will be condemned by Washington.

The spirited calls for revenge notwithstanding, India will have to carefully think through any military response as a cross-border strike will almost certainly lead to international condemnation. 

While many in India dismiss the nuclear threat from across the border as Pakistani blustering, the fact is that Islamabad has prepared for years for a low-intensity conflict with India, most notably by arming itself with tactical or non-strategic nuclear weapons which are meant to deter any incursion by Indian forces.‎ 

Pakistan has wanted to use these low-yield weapons to check the asymmetry with India in conventional warfare. America's foremost security expert and former senior adviser on South Asia to at least 4 US presidents, including Barack Obama, Bruce Riedel actually told TOI that India had ‎"no good military option" to stop Pakistani supported cross border violence in Kashmir. "Any military response in Pakistan risks escalation and will be condemned by the international community including Washington," said Riedel. 

 "A better approach would be to seek diplomatic support for labeling Pakistan a patron state sponsor of terrorism," he added. Riedel is not among those who continue to live in denial about India-specific terrorism perpetrated by state or non-state entities in Pakistan and had earlier this year blamed the ISI for the attack on the Pathankot airbase. 

He had then said that ISI had used Jaish e Mohammed (JeM), a terror group it helped create and which is accused of having carried out the Uri attack,‎ to target the Pathankot airbase. However, purely a diplomatic response meant to get Pakistan declared a sponsor of terrorism is unlikely to satisfy many NDA government supporters who have been fed t‎he line for over 2 years now that India has the capability, as also the will, to steamroll Pakistan if it didn't mend its ways. 

 In any case, the limitations of such an option were laid bare this year when China blocked UN action against Masood Azhar, the chief of JeM, despite India putting out evidence that JeM was responsible for the Pathankot attack.‎ It is unlikely that the Uri attack will have any impact on the position taken by China that Azhar is just a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. 

The government has declared that it won't allow the perpetrators of Uri to go unpunished but it will need to absorb any likely threat from Pakistan's tactical nukes before it decides to act. Islamabad has developed the 60-km nuclear-capable Nasr missile specifically to deter any Indian cold start, a euphism for quick and unified offensive operations by Indian forces on Pakistan territory in the event of a Mumbai-like attack.

Pakistan hasn't made any no-first-use commitment and, in fact, its senior ministers have repeatedly warned that Islamabad will not shy away from using the nuclear option against India.

‎In 2012, US nuclear expert Hans Kristensen identified Pakistan among 5 nuclear powers who were developing tactical nukes. The others were US, China, France and Russia. Kristensen had then told TOI that the nuclear Nasr appeared intended for use against invading Indian troop formations that Pakistan didn't have the conventional capabilities to defeat.

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