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Limited war, what is limited war?

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    Limited war, what is limited war?

    I've haard Indians ranting and raving for last 3 years about a "limited war". What do they mean by limited war? Or is there such thing as a limited war.

    Cool heads in a hot summer
    By Sudha Ramachandran

    BANGALORE - At the present rate, it is going to be a long, hot summer for Indian security forces deployed along the India-Pakistan border and battling militants in the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Last week's attack by suspected Pakistan-based militants on bus passengers and an army camp in Jammu, which left 34 dead, has triggered fresh uncertainty in the already unstable India-Pakistan relations. The attack came during the visit of US assistant secretary of state Christina Rocca to India and Pakistan.

    On Saturday, New Delhi asked Islamabad to recall its high commissioner (ambassador) to India. This is the first of a series of steps that India will take in the coming days to pressure Pakistan to halt its support to infiltration of terrorists from its soil into J&K. Saturday's announcement came a day after the Indian parliament unanimously backed the government on any steps it should take to counter terrorism in J&K.

    Soon after the December 13 attack on the Indian parliament, again by suspected Pakistan-based militants, India announced a series of measures to pressure Pakistan to halt its support to cross-border terrorism and hand over to India 20 leading terrorists and criminals based in Pakistan who are wanted in India. India snapped road, rail and air links with Pakistan. It recalled its envoy in Pakistan and downsized its mission in Islamabad. In addition, troops were deployed and put on a state of high alert along the border.

    While all these measures remain in place to date, the possibility of the two countries going to war was reduced considerably after Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf's speech of January 12, when he distanced himself from religious extremism and announced steps to crack down on terrorist groups in his country. While India was deeply skeptical as to whether the general would actually match his words with concrete action on the ground, it welcomed his decision to move away from using terrorism as an instrument of state policy. New Delhi decided to adopt a wait-and-watch policy toward Pakistan. Indian troops would stay put along the border to keep up the pressure on Musharraf to deliver on his pledges, while New Delhi would watch to see if infiltration of terrorists into Kashmir registered a drop.

    Since spring, the news from Kashmir has not been positive. Intelligence reports indicated that infiltrations have been far higher than for the corresponding period last year. A Ministry of Home Affairs report says that 132 terrorists infiltrated Indian territory in March and 118 terrorists in April this year. The infiltration figures compiled by the Indian army vary slightly, but both reports are of the view that New Delhi should be prepared for a "hot summer" in J&K, reported the weekly newsmagazine India Today.

    The Jammu attack confirms such apprehensions. It is said to be among the deadliest attacks in this part of the state. It is the Kashmir Valley, where Muslims are in majority, that has borne the brunt of the militancy over the past decade. Jammu - the Hindu-dominated region - has witnessed terrorist attacks only in recent years. Last month, terrorists hurled grenades into a Hindu temple in a busy area of Jammu town, killing about 10 persons.

    There has been an alarming rise in violence in the Valley, too, in recent weeks. Sources say there has been a 30 percent increase in terrorist incidents. On Friday, a bomb exploded just a few hundred meters from the police headquarters and the secretariat in Srinagar, the state capital.

    A hitherto unknown group, Al-Mansooriyan - said to be a front for the Lashkar-e-Toiba - claimed responsibility for last Tuesday's attack at Jammu. The Pakistan-based Lashkar is known to have close links with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) - ties that remain unsevered notwithstanding Musharraf's stated distancing from terrorism. In fact, several Lashkar leaders and cadres, who were rounded up after January 12, were let off soon after. India has blamed Pakistan for the Jammu attack.

    The Jammu attack has sparked outrage all over India. Demands for a "fitting reply" to Pakistan for its role in supporting terrorism in Kashmir are mounting in the country, and India, it seems, is slowly running out of diplomatic options to pressure Pakistan to halt this policy. The government has ruled out negotiations until Pakistan hands over the 20 wanted terrorists and stops infiltration. The diplomatic measures it took in December and the massing of troops have clearly not deterred Pakistan. What then should India do?

    An editorial in the Indian Express suggests, "In the face of escalating tension the meeting of the joint commission on the Indus Waters Treaty scheduled for May 29 should be postponed as an initial step. The military option," it says, "of course, must be reserved for the very last." Under the treaty, the two neighbors share the waters of six rivers in the Indus Basin.

    The Hindu calls for caution. "New Delhi will be well advised to resist the political temptation to opt for even a limited military strike against Pakistan" as such a strategy is unlikely to accomplish the goal of taking out the terrorist bases. Besides, "India is still far from sensitizing world opinion to its trauma of wounds inflicted by externally sponsored political terror".

    The Times of India editorial says, "Many in this country believe that ... diplomacy is no longer the answer to the problem of cross-border terrorism. In their view, New Delhi has little option but to launch what a former chief of army staff described - less than 24 hours before the latest outrage in Jammu - as a 'limited war'. Such retaliatory strikes, it is believed, will not risk escalation since their aim would be solely to inflict punishment and not gain territory ... New Delhi has a pressing obligation to protect its own, with or without American help."

    In an op-ed piece "Exploring India's options" in Indian Express, Air Commodore Jasjit Singh, former director of the Delhi-based Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses (IDSA), suggests that India should further scale down its diplomatic mission in Islamabad, and stop trade, "what little exists". He also suggests that India "re-examine" its commitment to the Indus Waters Treaty.

    Should these fail to produce "the desirable change" a military option becomes "inescapable". Singh continues, "Sending the land forces across the border would be counter-productive ... the answer lies in what may be termed as 'discriminate strikes' across the Line of Control limited to the territory of J&K state. In principle, we would be attacking territory that is part of India, and which even under the UN resolution [August 13, 1948] Pakistan had agreed to vacate as a first step. We had emphasized the 'sanctity' of the Line of Control, especially at the time of Kargil War. We need to change that to insist on 'defensible frontiers' till the occupied territories in J&K are recovered."

    Siddharth Vardarajan, writing in Times of India, suggests, "Rather than taking further punitive diplomatic measures, India should seriously consider filing a complaint against Pakistan under UN Security Council Resolution 1373. That resolution, passed in the wake of [September 11] under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, mandates countries - on pain of sanctions - to abjure support for terrorism ... This is the path India needs to follow if it wishes to remain within the confines of international law."

    Sections in government are itching for war. However, there are constraints on the government taking this path. One is international opinion. The US has called for restraint and is unlikely to support Indian strikes, however limited, against Pakistan, a key ally in its war against terrorism. There are the economic costs that are to be considered as well. Besides, the possibility of Islamabad using nuclear weapons in the event of military conflict cannot be ruled out. Most important is the upcoming election to the J&K assembly. The government is trying to get separatist groups to participate in the election and it would be reluctant to jeopardize that effort now.

    The exchange of angry rhetoric between the two countries is gathering momentum. But charting strategy by listening to those calling for revenge and retaliation would prove unwise as knee-jerk reactions, and emotional responses are unlikely to succeed.

    (2002 Asia Times Online Co, Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact [email protected] for information on our sales and syndication policies.)

    Abdali, I tell you what, you have limited the replies of Indians by posting this link

    Job good done

    Take Your Best Shot At Me


      Fact is, if India thought it could take Kashmir by force, it would have. Obvioulsy it can't and it won't.

      Same applies for Pak I guess, but as a country nearly a tenth the size of India, I don't think that analogy would be appropriate.