By Lt Gen (Retd) PR Shankar
Welcome home Wing Commander Abhinanadan. Well done. You flew into the Valley of Death and survived.
India is proud.
Sincere condolences to Air Marshal Waseem Ud Din on the loss of his son Shahaz Ud Din under most unfortunate circumstances.
He was incredibly brave to continue his mission when others had turned around.
A lot has happened since Balakot. Some in focus some out. Some hyped. Some diffused. Time to sum up the situation and see where things are heading. Militarily it is called Review of the Situation. I will do it journalistically so that the intellectual western media understands it. They might or not buy our story. Incidentally it is not a story. It is not for sale. This is real live action. Nuclear exchange receding. Not ruled out.
A fundamental paradigm has emerged. India’s fight is against terror. The Deep State’s (Pakistani Army) fight is against India. This is an unstable equation. Balance will only be regained when the people of Pakistan lose complete faith in the ability of Deep State to protect them. As I had mentioned earlier, this unbalancing Centre of Gravity must be destroyed. (https://palepurshankar.blogspot.com/2019/02/destruction-of-deep-state-national.html)
Balakot Strike. The IAF came out unscathed achieving total surprise. While the tactical outcomes are being debated the strategic outcomes are great and analysed. Curiously no one has been shown the strike site by Pakis. If they do, they will either admit damages or expose existence of the terror facility. In all cases, existence of such a huge facility is evidential of the Deep State’s complicity in terror propagation. Drive it home to move Pakistan into FATF blacklist. (https://palepurshankar.blogspot.com/2019/02/balakot-western-media-hogwash-by-lt-gen.html)
Riposte. The PAF riposte was in heavy numbers aimed at military targets. It was well thwarted by IAF. Pakistan lost one F16 and its pilot. India lost one MIG 21 and were gifted a national hero. Courtesy ham-handed perception management by the Deep State from capture, to interrogation to media parading and ultimately to a badly edited video on release of Wing Commander Abhinandan. Boomerang! Clearly, weapons given by USA to Pakistan for fighting terror were being used for aiding and propagating terror! Someone will feel sheepish and investigate use of AMRAM missiles and F16’s & end user certifications. Pack-istani duplicity lies exposed. In India we have maintained that Pack-istan always throws the hounds off-scent and scampers off – since it is the hare!
Larger Issue. A Large issue has emerged. IAF and USAF have held joint air exercises since the Red Flag days in Alaska. IAF has been regularly bettering the F series of US aircraft. Now they have downed a F16 with a MIG21. Pakistan did not use the Chinese JF17s in this action. Not considered good enough? Untested aircraft. Untested pilots. Sheer numbers. Yes, I am talking of China. Read my analysis again ( https://palepurshankar.blogspot.com/2019/02/an-unstable-china-indian-window-of_11.html). The statement by Xi Jinping that he wants PLA to be like US forces conveys something huge. China will not jump into this in a hurry.
LOC. I am sure my Gunners are sending hell across the LOC. The pressure on all Pakistani posts will be red hot. With their shortage of ammunition, I wonder how long will they last? Also, the punishment being meted out will psychologically dislocate troops on ground. Suggestion. Send up whatever ULH and Dhanush we have been handed over. Their direct fire sights and mobility in mountains will make them lethal force multipliers. Bunkers can be destroyed with half the effort. Blood them in.
Western Fleet. Some reports indicate that the Western fleet is out at sea. Presence is enough. It will discourage traffic into Karachi. Look up marinetraffic.com and see the ships berthed in Karachi port. Yesterday they were less than 5-6 vessels. All others are waiting out at sea. No oil tanker listed in incoming vessels. Energy crisis looming?
Air Space Closure. Pakistani air space and airports are closed till 04 March. Apart from economic, human and security issues, there seems to be a severe shortage of ATF. IAF must assess PAFs stamina to sustain air defence/ surveillance ops/ patrolling. Rattle sabres. Keep PAF up in air. Prolong the tension. Dry out the tanks. Covert ops on ATF installations?
Nukes Deployed? The question is will/or has the Deep State deployed its nukes? Some focussed satellite recce is the order of the day. I am sure the world does not want a nuclear holocaust. Get international surveillance resources to track Pak Nukes. Time to start locating Nasr’s (https://bharatshakti.in/hunting-for-nasr/) . There were also reports of their nukes being shifted to Saudi Arabia. I will discount that at present.
OIC Meet. Our External Affairs Minister addressed the OIC as a guest of Honour. Pakistan, the once self-proclaimed leader of OIC stayed away in protest. This has not gone down well within Pakistan itself. That is huge. Some self-isolation. No help?
(https://www.livemint.com/politics/news/india-invited-as-guest-of-honour-to-oic-meet-sushma-swaraj-to-attend-1550913750935.html). ( https://newsd.in/islamabad-should-have-attended-oic-meet-pakistani-editorials/)
Mediation. Russian attempts at mediation have been rejected. India has clearly said that there is no requirement for anyone else to mediate since the situation is stabilising. (Note – Stabilising and Not de-escalating). It is now clearly face to face between India and the Deep State. (https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-pakistan-tensions-no-russian-mediation-required-situation-is-stabilizing-says-india/article26419301.ece)
Muted China. China has been muted in its reaction. The joint declaration to root out terrorism by Foreign Ministers of China, Russia and India has something to do with this. Its interests are in danger. (https://in.news.yahoo.com/terrorism-threat-international-peace-security-india-russia-china-134820807.html).
Imran Khans Gesture in Releasing Wing Commander Abhinandan. The Pak PMs televised speech and gesture in releasing Wing Commander Abhinandan is an attempt at de-escalation and to get India to talk. It is more an attempt to regain normalcy through the international community. Normalcy means business as usual – an unshackled Deep State reverting to type with its sword arms – ISI, LET, JEM, HM, Haqqanis etc etc. I am dismayed at some sections of our media which declared that Imran Khan has upstaged our PM. Stupid. The line of Pakistani action is clear. Talk through puppets and action by Deep state.
Pak FMs Statement on Masood. Pak FM admitted, in public, about knowing Masood Azhar’s whereabouts but demurred action without proof. Does one need proof that Imran Khan is a cricketer after lifting the World Cup? Similarly does one need any further proof of Masood being a Terrorist after getting a release through a hijacking? Further JEM has come out with an audio message to proclaim that it is alive and kicking. I wonder, at times, if Pakistan will apply to the Vatican for sainthood for Masood Azhar for his lifelong effort at uplifting downtrodden and destitute terrorists. Balakot will be their City of Joy? Masood Azhar, their Mother Teresa?
Dossier Exchange. There were reports that some dossier exchanges are being carried out. I think it is time we stopped wasting our effort at this unproductive exercise.
Oil and Energy Security. As per emerging reports there is likely to be an energy emergency in Pakistan. With airports closed, its railways and road network must take on burden of internal movement which it cannot. It will do well to keep tabs on the country’s energy reserves. The people and unrest will be the best indicator.
Financials. The state of Pak economy is well known. Empty tank. Running on fumes. The Pak rupee has taken a hit. It has slid from 121 per USD range in Oct to 138 now. The Karachi Stock index has dipped from 53103 to 39084 (approx. 26%) in a year. The whole country is on the brink of a financial meltdown. It might just collapse. That will trigger unrest on the streets. If that starts, Pakistani toxicity will be at its lethal best. Think ahead of the curve to generate options.
Action Against Hardliners and Separatists. Resolute action against hardliners has commenced. JEI banned. Hurriyat taken hold of. Hotline to Pakistan and a 40-foot antenna discovered from Mirwaiz’s house. A 40-foot antenna! What was he doing? Communicating with aliens for recruitment? The fellow should be tried for treason on fast track basis. There are some feeble protests on streets. Nothing major. Counter terror operations must continue with out let up.
Elections. Our elections will be on schedule as per the Election Commission. It is an important timeline for Pak which will aim to stave off till elections. Indian interests and its focus will shift. Pakistan will have recovered from the brink. Doesn’t matter as to who wins. The government policy against the Deep State should stay the course. If it veers, it might be a win for the emergent ruling party/coalition, but India will lose. I do hope leaders of all hues are reading and understanding this. Political dissonance is fine. However, if political parties merely welcome Abhinandan back or issue statements in support of the Armed Forces they would have missed the trick and the national pulse. They must spell out a strategy to take this issue to its terminal state.
Very evident that there is method in our madness backed by a steely national resolve. The long haul has begun. It will be an uphill task. So far there is nothing to give solace to Pakistan. It finds itself under severe pressure and isolated. Keep it that way. There will be a reaction from the Valley in direct proportion to the pressure on Pakistan. A hot LOC will keep the pot on the boil. While certain de-escalation has taken place in one slice of the air dimension, notes from other keys are now getting audible in lower thresholds.
In my opinion it is time to convey some direct messages to the People of Pakistan. The messages should have the following content: –
We have no issue with Pakistanis. Our fight is against terror.
The Deep State can no more protect Pakistan. Discredit it.
The imminence of financial and resource collapse and melt down should be outlined. Hardship to follow must be indicated.
A handful of individuals and organisations have put the Awam of Pakistan at risk. Is it ok for them?
Hatred against India cannot be the sole idea of Pakistanis. They too can be like India. Progress towards prosperity.
Many more ideas can be added. However, do not be ham handed like the DGISPR.
We will await the next 48-72 hours to see as to where this is going.
I do hope that the review addresses the lofty intellectual western media narratives which have often enabled countries to declare dismal defeats as epic victories in a manner which would make that great man, Fd Marshal Slim turn in his grave. We do not need their pontification or opinion. It has not helped us for three decades or more. We are on our own. Let us sort this mess out our way.
One emergent reality of this conflict. Modern missiles are great on paper. In battle they are notoriously unreliable. The older they are the more unreliable they would be. Western Media. Please do not spook Pak. They could fire a nuke tipped missile. Their missiles are old. If any missile goes rogue, we in India might end up being safe. This is not a pun. It is a hard reality from someone who has seen Missiles misbehaving for 40 years.