Pakistan has struck India again. This time at the brigade headquarters in Uri in Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. 17 soldiers have been martyred. Four terrorists belonging to Pakistan’s Jaish-e-Mohammed were killed in the operation by Indian Army to clear the terrorists.

Reactions from the political leadership came quickly. Home Minister Rajnath Singh canceled his visit to Russia and the US. In a statement he said that Pakistan is a terrorist state and should be called as such and isolated. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted 

“We strongly condemn the cowardly terror attack in Uri. I assure the nation that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished”

It’s not the first time India has been attacked by Pakistan using its proxies. The memories of Pathankot attack right after PM Modi’s Lahore visit remains fresh. Despite numerous evidence including from those from the US, Pakistan continues to deny any role in the attack nor does it bring the terror leaders like Masood Azhar of JeM or UN designated terrorists Hafiz Saeed of LeT to justice. Being the extended arm of the Pakistan Army and its intelligence agency the ISI, its not expected that Pakistan will give up on or take action against these terrorists and crack down on their organization and infrastructure that trains terrorists. 

India’s reaction after the Pathankot attack earlier this year was the same. Home Minister Rajnath Singh after that attack said that while India wanted peace with Pakistan, it would give a “befitting reply” to terrorist attacks.

At the end, only dossiers of evidence were sent and worse, a team from Pakistan with ISI agents was allowed to visit Pathankot airbase. Reciprocal visit by Indian investigating team was denied by Pakistan. In fact media in Pakistan quoting Pakistani authorities said that the Pathankot attack was a false flag operation meaning staged by India to defame Pakistan.

Nothing was done to deter Pakistan from its proxy war against India. In fact union minister Prakash Javdekar said “This process (talks) cannot be destroyed due to one attack. Pakistan is our neighbour. You cannot change your neighbour, you can change friends, and therefore, we must continue with the talks, but talks have to be mainly on the issue of terrorism and that’s what exactly India is doing. Unless you talk terror, terror will not come down”.

Such conciliatory statements which Velu helplessness and lack of strong deterrence mechanism has allowed Pakistan to up the ante after Indian security forces killed Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani. The leader of Hizb Syed Salahuddin who is also the chairman of the United Jihad Council recently said that there can be no peaceful solution in Kashmir and that he will make Kashmir the graveyard for Indian Army and also take the war across India. Off course expecting Pakistan to take action against such terrorists despite such open provocations is asking for too much. Pakistan civil and military leadership eulogize terrorists and have in fact taken it to the international community which is now not interested in Pakistani lies. 

In the view of continued terror attacks, India has tried to up the pressure on Pakistan by raising the Balochistan issue. It was first raised by the PM in an all party meet and subsequently in his Independence Day speech. Recently at the UN Human Rights Council, India once again raised the issue of Baloch human rights violation by Pakistan Army. India has also offered political asylum to Baloch leaders. Pakistan has been rattled by India’s aggressive new face but its not a deterrent for it to stop terror attacks against India.

Comments have already begun to fly that the Uri attack by Pakistan is in response to India taking up the Baloch issue. If that’s the case, what was the reason for the Pathankot terror attack or Gurdaspur or Mumbai 26/11 and countless other attacks that have taken thousands of lives in India? 

India raising the Baloch issue is a work in progress to counter Pakistan but it is not sufficient to deter terror attacks on India. That will require use of hard power. Political leadership in India has been deterred by the continuous nuclear threat by Pakistan which issues threats week after week through its civil and military establishment. The thought of use of hard power to raise the costs for Pakistan triggering a larger war and taking nuclear dimension limits political reactions to just words which are issued after ever terror attack on India in a set script of condemnation in the strongest possible terms and punishing those who perpetrate the terror attacks (read Pakistan).

India is also plagued with the good boy disease which stops it from taking hard steps to protect its own interests and security. Earning platitudes from foreign powers for showing restraint after every major attack by Pakistani state using its proxies is not going to help India in securing itself. 

In fact India is seen as a soft power by the very same foreign powers that praise India due to lack of hard action against Pakistan. World respects strength. India is well within its rights to take military action against Pakistan for the repeated attacks on India and will find support from the international community which is now well aware of Pakistan duplicitous role in combating terror. 

US Congressional hearings have repeatedly called out Pakistan in its role in promoting terror in Afghanistan that has killed thousands of US troops. It has stopped aid to Pakistan and also blocked the sale of F-16 fighter jets. Former US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad who appeared before a US Congressional hearing has asked for Pakistan to be declared a terrorist state. 

Noted analyst Prof Christine Fair who has authored Fighting to the end: Pakistan Army’s way of war which brings out the Jihadi revisionist agenda of Pakistan, calls for Pakistan to be declared a terrorist state and be sanctioned heavily. 

But to protect itself, India will have to act on it own. It will find support internationally as growing terror attacks across the world has reduced tolerance to zero, but it’s India alone which will have to impose punitive costs on Pakistan. The very nukes that Pakistan uses to blackmail the world and prevents military attack on it from India despite promoting terror will become its undoing. 

The world will not allow or accept Pakistan’s to use nuclear weapons in response to conventional Indian attack on Pakistan in retaliation for terror attacks on it. It might even mean preventive measures especially by the US if it sees a Pakistan readying itself for a nuclear attack. That opens up the opportunity for India to use its superior conventional strength to put an end to its Pakistan problem. 

Every time there is a terror attack, calls from India do come out to go after terror sanctuaries, hot pursuit of terrorists and even war. The question is, will India’s political leadership continue with isssuing empty statements about punishing Pakistan or muster courage and act?