These are tense times for us in India. Even as Pakistan plays its dual game of promoting terrorism against India while simultaneously denying any hand the recent attacks on Indian soil, the question on everyone’s mind is – Will there be a war soon? To answer it, we need to review the recent incidents and their repercussions. I begin, not with the Uri incident, but by going a bit more backwards.
In January this year, a heavily armed group attacked Pathankot Air Force Station leaving 7 Indian soldiers and 5 attackers dead. A detailed investigation was carried out in cooperation with the Pak government and proofs of Pak Army involvement were handed over to them. Pakistan, however, refused to accept their role in the incident. India waited patiently and avoided aggression.
Then again in September, a group of 4 heavily armed men attacked Indian Army brigade HQ in URI killing 17 Indian soldiers. Once more the evidences of Pak Army support to the attack were handed over to the Pakistani envoy and once more Pakistan called it inconclusive and trumped up.
Driven to other tactics to give a fitting reply since Pakistan did not seem to understand the language of decency and diplomacy, India went on a multipronged offensive against Pakistan on different fronts as detailed below:
• Pulled out of SAARC summit to be held in Islamabad. Afganistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan followed suit in support to us. Nepal declared the summit postponed. The tactic was to isolate Pakistan in the region and shame it in front of the international community.
• Plans to review the Indus Water Treaty and exercise its rights under the treaty for the full utilization of the rivers flowing through Jammu and Kashmir. The Permanent Indus Commission was also suspended forcing Pakistan into a deadlock on this issue.
• Plans to review the MNF status that we had extended to Pakistan and which was sadly never reciprocated by our neighbour probably because peace with India was the last thing they want.
• Support for the Balochistan cause. The idea being to give Pak a taste of its own medicine as regards what it is trying to do in Kashmir.
• On 28th September, India carried out surgical strikes into POK and destroyed 7 terror launch pads. This showed the world that we are able to deal with the terror groups without harming Pak civilians. That we so far deferred to Pakistani action against these groups was merely our decency.
Chances of War?
After the recent strike by us in POK, Pakistan will be bound to reply in its usual devious ways and we must expect further hostilities across the LOC for the foreseeable future. How far those hostilities go will depend on the following things:
• India, being a peace loving country, has a no first use policy when it comes to nuclear weapons. However, if Pakistan resorts to nukes in reply to any perceived aggression from Indian side, we will also be forced to use our arsenal to protect ourselves and to retaliate and things would heat up very fast
• The current general of Pakistan military Raheel Sharif is due to step down at the end of his tenure in November. However in the past few months, Times of India reports that the general has been tightening his grip over media, judiciary and the security policy matters of Pakistani government. Going by the history of Pakistan, this could be a military coup in making and that could escalate the war like situation with India.
• India is planning on conducting naval exercises in the Arabian Sea to demonstrate its military capabilities. Economic times suggest this could easily take the form of a naval blockade, should it be needed, in order to put more pressure on Pakistan. Since this would cut off the only sea route access to Pakistan, it would be our fitting reply to Pakistani aggression along our borders and result would be escalation into a war.
• Should India decide to restart construction of the Wullar barrage, Pakistan has said that it will consider that too as an act of war like aggression from Indian side, even though we have the right to do it as per the terms of Indus Water Treaty.
So, if there is indeed a war, how will it affect us?
As a country:
• The most important concern we need to have is that a full scale aggression may actually expose the gaps in our military capabilities to the eyes of the world. We would be vulnerable to attacks from the Chinese end, during or after the war and we will not be able to resist it at the present state. Hence, we should ramp up our efforts to analyse and fix such loopholes at the earliest so we may not be seen wanting in protecting our motherland when the need comes
• War will definitely bring with it an upswing in the manufacturing sector, so that the demands of war are met. But it will affect the economic growth trajectory we are on and put us behind by at least a decade.
• Markets have already become volatile on the news of hostilities, the value of rupee will plummet to new lows if war breaks out
Effect on the common man:
• Basic essentials of life like food and electricity will become costlier and unavailable as against demand
• Funds and resources meant for infrastructure development will have to be diverted to the war affecting daily life
• Indian public will be faced with a higher tax burden in the days after war in order to help reconstruct our country
• The people of Kashmir and those who have relatives in Pakistan will be the worst affected as the frequency of communal clashes and civil unrest will also increase
Thus to summarise, I think the Indian government would try to avoid a full scale war as far as is possible simply because it is inimical to its well being and prosperity. However, should Pakistan continue trying to force our hand by engaging in further dalliances with the terror groups that have pledged war with India, there can be no doubt that every Indian will stand up and do his bit to ensure the future peace and security of our motherland. Even if it means war.