Uri Attack: Talk of a tactical response over the strategic one is growing louder – Danvir Singh

Narendra Modi & Pranab Mukherjee

Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Manohar Parrikar & top officials

Colonel Danvir SinghEvery attack is followed by high level meetings followed by dossiers and diplomatic sparring. On the other side, the cunning Pakistani leaders snigger at the Indian rhetoric. … India has to be serious to get the support it desires from the world on Pakistan. We need to help ourselves before expecting any one else to help us. – Colonel Danvir Singh

On September 18,  Home Minister Rajnath Singh cancelled his overseas visit after hearing of the attack on an army camp in Uri. Back in 2014 on December 05, six terrorists had attacked the Indian Army’s camp at Mohura in Uri. The Army then had retaliated killing all the six terrorists. Our own losses included eight army soldiers and three Jammu and Kashmir policemen. In all, 17 human lives were lost.

In a rerun of sorts, a similar audacious attack was launched in the wee hours on September 18, 2016 at Uri on an Army Camp by Pakistani terrorists. Amasingly the response of the government of India, the media and the analysts appeared to be eerily similar to that which followed the earlier attacks. A response that has been well rehearsed over and over again. Something that has been perfected, as it appears, in the ongoing proxy war unleashed by our revisionist neighbour, Pakistan.

No one seems to have learnt a lesson. The Army always blames it on the harsh inhospitable terrain to cover up its ineffectiveness  in checking infiltration. This despite the fact that millions of rupees have been invested in erecting the fence along the LoC and three-tier counter infiltration Army deployment providing depth to the obstacle.

The politicians have their responses ready depending upon the forthcoming elections and their political constituencies and compulsions. The media goes berserk chasing prime time headlines. National fervour, emotions, melodrama and the aggressive argumentative Indian makes a perfect TRP recipe.

Every attack is followed by high level meetings followed by dossiers and diplomatic sparring. On the other side, the cunning Pakistani leaders snigger at the Indian rhetoric, quietly reminding their arch enemy India about their nuclear capability.

Masood AzharThis set piece performance as per the script has become a part of our existence and psyche.  More than 24 hours have elapsed since the four gun blazing Jaish-e-Mohamad terrorists came and butchered 17 Indian soldiers. An extremely shameful incident for any soldier and the army at large.

Adding injury to that insult is the vain waiting of a decision to enable take the revenge for those killed comrades. A wait that seems unending. Frustration and demoralisation grows with each attack, and the rising body count.

Since day before yesterday, there have been a series high level meetings at New Delhi.  A few tweets and a few statements did generate a hope of a retaliation or at least a muscular response. At this juncture, I would like to recall the statement of the then Indian Army Chief, General Bikram Singh, who after the LoC beheadings, said, “we will retaliate at the place and time of our own choosing”.  Alas! In these many years we have not been able to select a place and set the time. The soldiers continue to die as the nation and its army bleeds.

Being an optimistic veteran, I believe and hope that this time around the script may change. India could respond. Discussions are underway to work out the type of response, be it diplomatic, strategic or tactical or a mix of all.

The nation looks at the Prime Minister with the hope that he will call the Pakistani bluff and teach them an everlasting lesson. Within the military circles, the talk of a tactical response over the strategic one is growing increasingly louder. As an old saying goes, “the ships are not built for the harbours.” Let’s hope our national prestige and soldier’s honour is restored and the battle ships steam out. By the fall of the evening on September 19, it emerged that the Indian Prime Minister has asked his government to focus on isolating Pakistan diplomatically.

Is India buying time? Or has Mr Narendra Modi realised what his predecessors, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Mr Manmohan Singh came to realise about the harsh facts of our strength and political will after the Parliament and Mumbai attacks? Has Modi covered those startling gaps in preparedness of our armed forces, which was once highlighted by his own minister General V. K. Singh, when he was the Military Chief, through his leaked letter to the Prime Minister.

Or, has Mr Modi has decided to play a Mrs Gandhi, who went ahead to shape the world opinion before reshaping the region’s map. The options available to India that can be exercised under present circumstances are diplomatic, strategic and tactical in that  order. Diplomatically India needs to go out all tongs and hammer to expose the real face of Pakistan to the world. We need to highlight the atrocities in Baluchistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir to the world, and walk the talk of extending support to Baluchistan as underscored by the Prime Minister on August  15 from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

India needs to change its stance from being a vulnerable nation at the mercy of Pakistan to a strong aggressive nation at the UNGA. We need to expose Pakistan at the world body and reply credibly to the Kashmir  bogey.

Pinaka Rocket LauncherStrategically on long-term basis we need to strengthen our position in Afghanistan and support Baluch movement more substantially both materially and morally.

Going specifically on the response to Uri, India could explore usage of Navy for an economic blockade supported by cruise missile attacks on all the terrorist camps in POK and Pakistan Punjab. Use of Air Force at initial stage could bring in reverses as Pakistan’s air defence would all be primed, their eyes fully focused  on the Indian skies. Hence that may not be a wise option.

While exercising this option,  India will have to be prepared for the likely heavy cost of the conflict spiralling out of control on the escalatory ladder. Tactically, Indian army could raise the bar and bring upon the enemy to bear a heavy price for facilitating infiltration by smothering their defensive posts on the LoC that fall on that nefarious route. Weapons like the Smerch, Pinnaka and the Bofors could play havoc with Pakistani positions across the Line of Control. Use of infantry and special forces for cross border raids could augment the tactical efforts.

On the domestic front, we need to strike a unity in all political voices when it comes to action against Pakistan as the tone tends to change due to ethnic and religious affinity shared across the border with their core vote bank constituencies.

India has to be serious to get the support it desires from the world on Pakistan. We need to help ourselves before expecting any one else to help us.

It’s the right time now. – The New Indian Express, 20 September 2016

» Colonel Danvir Singh is a former CO of 9 Sikh Light Infantry. He is now an associate editor of Indian Defence Review and author of Kashmir’s Death Trap: Tales of Perfidy and Valour. Email him at danvirsingh34@icloud.com

Map of secret terrorist training camps in Pakistan

Uri Heroes


3 Responses

  1. Declare Pakistan a terrorist state: MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar writes to PM Modi – Times of India – TNN – Sep 21, 2016

    NEW DELHI: Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar wants the government of India to declare Pakistan a terrorist state. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chandrashekhar wrote that he had submitted a private members bill and resolution in Parliament titled ‘Pakistan State Sponsor of Terror’ and expressed hope that it will be considered in the Winter Session.

    This came on a day when two American lawmakers introduced legislation in the US Congress aimed at designating Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism in a humiliating setback to Islamabad ahead of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech+ before the UN General Assembly.

    The bill, HR 6069 or the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act, enjoins the US administration to make a formal call on the matter within four months of its passage.

    Speaking to timesofindia.com, Rajeev Chandrasekhar said,”India can and should use its economic and trade strengths in addition to diplomatic and military options — to send out a strong and firm message that it intends to change the relation with Pakistan into one where Pakistan is a more responsible and credible neighbour.”

    Saying that there can be “no half measures any more”, the Rajya Sabha MP added, “The Parliament resolution and bill will also serve as a signal internally and externally the depth of our national resolve and put an end to those that are ambiguous and vague about Pakistan.

    Use of our economic buttons like repealing Pakistan’s MFN status will also send a strong message to those countries in our region that wittingly or unwittingly support Pakistan.”

    In his letter to the PM, the lawmaker has referred to the US bill against Pakistan. The text of that bill cited multiple infractions by Pakistan in its sponsorship of terrorism, including US threat assessments threat assessments that revealed “Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) facilitated al-Qaida’s movement of fighters to and from Afghanistan as well as the terrorist organization’s purchase of weapons.”


  2. US lawmakers move bill to designate Pakistan as a terrorist state – Chidanand Rajghatta – Times of India – TNN – Sep 21, 2016

    WASHINGTON: Two American lawmakers have introduced legislation in the U.S Congress to designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism, in a humiliating setback to Islamabad ahead of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech before the UN General Assembly.

    The bill, H.R 6069 or the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act, enjoins the U.S administration to make a formal call on the matter within four months of its passage.

    The President will have to issue a report within 90 days detailing whether or not Pakistan has provided support for international terrorism. Thirty days after that, the Secretary of State will have to issue a follow-up report containing either a determination that Pakistan is state sponsor of terrorism or a detailed justification as to why Pakistan does not meet the legal criteria for designation.

    The bill was moved by Congressman Ted Poe from Texas, who is the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California, who is a strong votary of the Baloch cause.

    ”Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years. From harboring Osama bin Laden to its cozy relationship with the Haqqani network, there is more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on in the War on Terror. And it’s not America’s,” Poe said in a statement on Tuesday announcing the bill.

    The bill is largely symbolic considering the current Congress is now in its final days, and only a small fraction of the thousands of bill become law in any case. But it is powerful expression of the mood among lawmakers increasingly agitated about Pakistan’s ceaseless backing of terror groups that are taking American and Indian lives.

    ”It is time we stop paying Pakistan for its betrayal and designate it for what it is: a state sponsor of terrorism.” Congressman Poe said.

    In a separate statement ahead of the bill, Poe condemned the terrorist attack on the Uri military camp in India, saying this is just the ”latest consequence of Pakistan’s longstanding irresponsible policy of supporting and providing operational space for all stripes of jihadi terrorist groups.”

    “Pakistan’s reckless behavior in this regard is a serious security risk to its neighbors – and India unfortunately pays the price all too often. We condemn this tragic attack, as well as Pakistan’s support for many criminals like the ones who carried it out, and stand firm in our commitment to our friends in India,” Poe said.

    Several Congressmen and Senators flagged the Uri attack for attention — Senators Mark Warner, Pete Sessions, and Tom Cotton among them — expressing sympathy for India. While many excoriated Pakistan, there was not one taker for Pakistan’s conspiracy theory that somehow India had staged a false-flag attack on itself to divert attention from the “Kashmir issue.” There were no takers for the “Kashmir issue” either.

    If anything, the terrorist tag clung even harder to Pakistan following the arrest of the New York serial bomber who is now believed to have been radicalized after extended stays in Pakistan.


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