India, Pakistan take steps to prepare for war

India, Pakistan take steps to prepare for war



Indian Army troops of the famed Gurkha Rifles on parade

A flurry of reports in the Indian, Pakistani and Western media indicate that both India and Pakistan are taking serious steps to prepare for a new conflict between the two nations, which have fought three wars since 1947, in the wake of the November 26 terror attacks in Mumbai.

According to reports from both sides of the border, Pakistan has cancelled all military leaves, put its forces on high alert, and is moving troops from the west to the frontier with India.  At least two corps of Indian Army troops are also on the move in what officials called “annual exercises.”  And Indian Prime Minister met for the second time in a week with India’s top military officers in a widely publicized gathering to review “defense preparedness.”

Meanwhile, the Indian government is warning its citizens not to travel to Pakistan, and both sides are ratcheting up their war of words.  Over the past week, India has increased its pressure on Pakistan to take concrete action against the Pakistan-based groups, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, that India and U.S. intelligence officials believe were responsible for the Mumbai attacks.  India pointedly delivered a letter from the sole surviving Mumbai attacker to Pakistani authorities, contending that it constitutes the evidence demanded by Pakistan of the terrorists’ Pakistani ties.  But Pakistan has refused to consider the letter as sufficient proof.

The United States continues to call on both sides to avoid a conflict that could seriously harm the American-led war against the Taliban in Afghanistan by diverting Pakistan’s armed forces from west to east. A parade of high-ranking U.S. officials has descended on Pakistan and India in recent weeks, making no bones about their strong interest in a Pakistani crackdown on Kashmiri terrorists and Indian forbearance.  However, Indian officials have harshly scolded the “international community” — which in this case can be taken to mean chiefly the United States — for not doing enough to “deal effectively” with a terror threat in Pakistan that India regards as the “greatest danger” to the world.  While pushing for heightened international pressure on Pakistan, India is also laying the groundwork to be able to say it exhausted international channels to solve the problem before deciding to strike.

In what might well be a propaganda move designed to counter India’s claims about the Mumbai attackers and rally Pakistanis behind their flag, Pakistan said Thursday that it had arrested three Indian nationals for a bombing in Lahore and linked them to an “Indian spy.”  India immediately dismissed the charge as a “ploy.”

Referring to the kind of precisely targeted Indian attack along the lines I speculated about a few days ago, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi warned that Pakistan would retaliate for any such attack.  Their statements were presumably designed to convince India and others that any Indian military action — even a “surgical” strike against one or more of the Kashmiri separatist training camps located within the Pakistan-administered portion of Kashmir — would lead to a wider war.

I, for one, don’t doubt that.  The Mumbai attacks have put both sides between a rock and a hard place.  Anger over the attacks is so widespread among large segments of India’s population that India’s governing Congress Party must extract significant concessions from Pakistan of a kind that no Pakistani government, civilian or military, has ever been able to give and still survive.  There is no chance that Pakistan’s weak civilian government will arrest and extradite to India anyone associated with the attacks.  It’s even unlikely that Pakistan will directly punish lower-level militants or take serious steps to break up Lashkar-e-Taibi or Jaish-e-Muhammed.  The simple fact is that the minimum needed to placate India is more than the maximum that any Pakistani government can afford to do.

Of course, the U.S., NATO, and the Afghan government have a major stake in seeing that Pakistan’s army is not drawn away from the North West frontier, but as the stand-off between India and Pakistan goes into its second month, it’s not clear what more any of them can do to avert a clash.

I’m just guessing, but my guess is that India will launch a targeted strike sometime soon.  If so, President Barack Obama will face another serious crisis just as he assumes office.

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  • Rajesh Kochhar

    It may be helpful to recall that in 1962 India timed liberation of Goa before the general election. In 1971 India tried its best diplomatically before launching an attack on East Pakistan.

  • Arvind Goswami

    India and its government lives in a fools paradise if they think that the USA will in anyway force Pakistan to abandon its pro militant policy. It has lied since 1948 about its involvement in Kashmir. It will continue to do so with total impunity from USA. A.Q. Khan mastermind of the Nuclear trade is under house arrest. Now Pakistan claims they have militant leader under house arrest.
    If Israel can retaliate why not India?

  • Prashanth B

    War is no longer an option for India and Pakistan. The situation this time is very different compared to other recent wars (US vs. Afghanistan and Iraq, or Israel vs. Hamas) or even previous India-Pakistan wars. Both are densely populated countries sharing a huge borderline, and each has missile range that can reach the farthest parts of the other. The military capabilities of the two are somewhat comparable, although India definitely has an edge. Both are nuclear powers, and that is the scariest part.

    It’s not a war that will stop with the destruction of militant targets. If it does stop that soon, it is useless anyway, as the forces that promote terrorism will ensure that it grows all over again. The only way a war will stop Pak-originated terrorism is if the blow is so crushing that Pakistan will not have the means to encourage terrorism in spite of all the post-war bitterness. And no doubt India can do that and win the war, since it can easily outlast Pakistan in people and firepower, but the combined human casualties (civilian included) and infrastructure damage could surpass the equivalent of a Mumbai bomb blast “every single day” for the next century. Put that in perspective. The classic Pyrrhean victory.

    Economically and growth-wise, it’ll be a disaster for the two countries, especially for India – setting it back by at least a few decades. The world is no longer going to view India as an investment, outsourcing or off-shore target. It’ll become another troubled zone like some in the middle-east. The call centers will move back – as someone joked.

  • Smita

    The “War on Terror” has finally found its way to India. This is the dark side of becoming a member of the globalization club. As a citizen of this country, I do not want to go to war. I see no purpose in sabre rattling either. India and Pakistan are on the same land. Any thing that happens to one will affect the other irrevocably. I do not wish our young people to lose their lives for the sake of any border or territory. The developed nations have got us in a terrible economic bind and they are now twisting our arms to meet their demands. Does India want an Iraq or Afghanistan on her hands. I do not and I am Indian. Every day now we are being filled with fear and anxiety. If normal times are so fearful, then war time will surely be unbearable. I say no to war, no to bullies who are shoving us into a war that none of us want. I say yes to extending our arms in inclusion, yes to dialogue, yes to seeing the similarities between our nations. I say yes to every citizen of India, of each and every religion, standing together, shoulder to shoulder, strengthening our spirit and extending the hand of friendship. I say yes to accountability in our actions and safeguarding ourselves against destruction. War is not a safeguard, war will only end the peace and wound the soul deeply. It will endanger all of us in this land of Gandhi. We must only pursue the path of ahimsa, because ‘every action has a reaction’.

  • Bilal Sarwari

    Dont know when pak indo tension will stop, there relation was very good in last year, may be there are some person who dont want to say us happy and they are creating problems in our way, if you look at history everything is going fine they start local buses, business, exchanging other business and even sports, and now … ??

  • Arvind Goswami

    USA Its President, Foreing secretary, CIA and all other agencies are making lots of noise about Iran’s “Secret nuclear facility” Whom are they try to fool? Were they not aware that A. Q. Khan the nuclear market trader was responsible for selling nuclear technology to not only Iran but also to North Korea and Libiya. Is CIA unawre of the fact that the then Pak president Pervez Mushraf himself sought aslylum for two of Pakistan’s nuclear scientist in Maynamar. The two nuclear scietists were reported to have met Bin Laden with the secret of making a” dirty nuclear bomb” The names of these two Pakistani scientists are – Suleman Assa and Suleman Mukhtiar. Both the scientist were intialy put under house arrest and then they were allowed to fly out. Today with the help of North korea Mynamar is getting ready for the nuclear bomb. And for all these activities around the world who isthe master mind/ A.Q.Khan He is the free citizen of Pakistan and USA can do NOTHING .. It will keep on giving arems and money to ” MR.TEN PERCENT ” PRISIDENT OF PAKISTAN. USA does not want to do anything. It will continue it’s decption, double standard and delay in taking approriate action.