George Washington famously said, “If we desire to avoid insult, we must able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace - one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity - it must be known that we are at all times ready for war”. India, however, has stomached not just insult but also acts of cross border aggression by Pakistan while continuing to sing peace to its tormentor, a small state by every yardstick no amount of terror has convinced India to change course - not even the Pakistan-scripted attacks on symbols of Indian power, including parliament, Red Fort, Stock exchange, National capital, business capital and IT capital.
Each act of aggression has been greeted with inaction and stoic tolerance. Every new attack has effectively been more water under the bridge. India has put even the internationally unprecedented Mumbai terrorist siege behind it by delinking dialogue from terrorism and resuming cricketing ties. If anyone questions this approach of turning the other cheek to every Pakistani or Chinese attack, it retort, do they want war? There are a hundred different options between these extremists that India must explore and pursue. Indeed, only a policy approach that avoids the extremes of abject appeasement and thoughtless provocation can have merit.
The appeasers also argue that neighbours cannot be changed. A stable, peaceful and prosperous Pakistan is in Indian’s “own interest’. Even, if India cannot change its neighbours, it must seek to change their behaviour so that it conforms to international norms. Yet India has shied away from employing even non-coercive options to discipline a wayward Pakistan waging law-intensity unconventional warfare. India should squeeze Pakistan economically and diplomatically. India has stepped up its propitiation of China, in spite of facing a Sino-pak pincer offensive centred on Jammu and Kashmir. Chinese incursions into Ladakh have increased in parallel with Pakistani ceasefire violations. An easy way for India to make the transition from timidity to prudence is to start spotlighting plain facts on cross-border aggression.
The desperation of the people of Pakistan to establish peaceful relations with India and resumes the composite dialogue process between the two countries, which was shelved after 26/11 attack on Mumbai, is justifiable and discernible. But the Pakistan army’s wildest fear of losing importance has prompted it to scuttle the efforts of people by escalating tension on border. India needs to have a strange strategy to deal with such volatile neighbour and should not even shy away from using military force to neutralize Pakistan’s nefarious intentions. It is indeed shocking that our recalcitrant neighbours have repeatedly been taken advantage of India soft-state image. It is high time India made a show of its political decisiveness. We should not compromise to safeguard national interests. India must have to become the single-most important factor inviting aggression, spurring a vicious circle.