To my brother officers, troops and those interested in defence of the nation:
In this crowded space when many Generals & other accomplished security experts, like television anchors and page 3 socialites, are offering security advice, in the aftermath of the Uri attack, when cross-border militants killed 18 Indian soldiers, here are some steps that just might help strategically.
1. Stop jingoism designed to play to the gallery
"Covert" Ops are not announced like TV programs, though TV channels undoubtedly want to be the “First to announce” "Covert" attacks.
These operations based in TV studios are designed to get them Television Rating Points and celebrity status. Most TV anchors, politicians & some Generals will fight until the last drop of your blood.
Doesn’t help strategically or even tactically.
Keeping the enemy on tenterhooks is far better than a few skirmishes. It forces the Pakistani Army to stay on high alert (huge cost & stress on formations) and forces dilution of troops in their Western border with Afghanistan – thus easing Pakistani pressure on pro-India factions in Afghanistan, allowing them time and space to consolidate and gain momentum.
Keeping Pakistani troops committed in their Eastern border for months, awaiting the anticipated retaliation, is far worse for them than actually carrying out a few raids.
2. Recognise that there are three Pakistans: Pakistani Army, Pakistani politicians & Pakistani people
Devise three different strategies for each faction.
Pakistani Generals want to continue ruling the longest running military dictatorship in the world.
(Pakistan has been a de facto military state since soon after independence when the leadership vacuum created by its founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah's death in 1948 was exploited by the army, which continues to this day)
Consider this. Their current Prime Minister when he was Prime Minister last time – sacked the military chief while the latter was mid-air.
Before Pervez Musharraf’s aircraft landed, Nawaz Sharif was deposed, and Musharraf was President of Pakistan. Despite being ousted and charged with nothing less than treason, General Musharraf gallivants the world and even visits India as the chief guest of summits.
If that doesn’t tell you what the real leadership institution of Pakistan is, then stop reading this post and read Alice in Wonderland instead.
3. Generals run Pakistan not their Prime Minister or the politicians.
Recognise which Sharif to apply pressure on. Army Chief Raheel controls Prime Minister Nawaz, not the other way round.
Pakistani Generals are part-time soldiers & full time businessmen. Attack their business interests. Hit Pakistan commercially. Map every export of Pakistan and every market they sell to. Subsidise own products in those markets and undercut the pricing in such a way that Pakistani farmers and small businesses feel the squeeze.
For the cost of less than few fighter aircrafts, India can devastate Pakistan’s commodity export economy.
Leverage India’s global buying power & tell the world they have to choose between Indian or Pakistani market access. They can’t have both.
Every multinational corporation operating in India should get the same message from the government, corporations, and private citizens. Choose where you want to do your business. India or Pakistan.
Now the government may have some challenges in implementing such a strategy because that’s contrary to world free trade agreements, but what stops citizens from boycotting every McDonalds, Coke, Pepsi, Honda, Vodafone, Unilever etc with the simple caveat. If you do business in Pakistan, forget about our wallet shares.
Instead of jingoism on WhatsApp, forgo your Coke. That’s far more effective. You don’t need divisions to wage a war. You can start becoming a warrior yourself!
4. You don’t need to use weapons to win a war. You just need to buy them instead
India is the largest weapons-buying country in the world. This is not because we are arming ourselves suddenly, it is because most of our equipment is now "end of life" cycle and we are replenishing them.
This means that entire assembly lines in the world will shutdown if India does not buy their equipment.
So Rafale will shut down if India doesn’t order from them, Bofors will cease to exist if India does not place an order. Thousands of jobs (and millions of votes) in those countries depend on India’s orders.
Tell the Frances of the world that they can’t expect India to buy Rafale if they continue selling submarines to Pakistan. Show China that we can stop buying their electronics if they continue to support Pakistan.
5. Reach out to the people of Pakistan
Show them how their military is sucking their progress dry. Invite their youth to India and let them see the power of true democracy first hand.
Encourage them to start demanding financial accountability rather than empty jingoism.
Reveal the truth about the Pakistani military businesses that have nothing to do with defence. (Pakistani military, aka Pakistani Generals, run banks, corporations and businesses that account for substantial amounts of their GDP)
Prompt them to ask their radicals as to why their own children are studying / working in India and other countries – while the fanatics encourage others to attain jannat, heaven in martyrdom. Empower Pakistani youth to question their fanatical leaders' hypocrisy .
Reassure them that India has no nefarious designs on their future. It’s their own leaders who are stymieing their progress.
6. Rebuild own institutions strategically
Rearm the Armed Forces on a war footing. Implement recommendations of countless committees advocating modernisation of the Army/police/paramilitary forces.
Modernise processes so that procurement of equipment does not take decades. Bring in professionalism and efficiency and hold DRDO accountable for performance. Don’t keep condoning inefficiencies and delays. Ask why projects are not completed on time.
Why is a country that is sending spacecraft to Mars, not able to make an indigenous rifle? If you demand accountability from the defence forces, why not from those who are supposed to equip those same forces?
7. Realise that every country will get the army (or for that matter, the political leadership) they accept
Realise that patriotism is not an emotion to be paraded when provoked. Patriotism is an ongoing value system. Those who ask why the army is not retaliating must also ask why the army is not given its due. Those who are baying for revenge and blood should ask how much of mindshare or TV time was given to veterans asking for their decade-long dues.
Those who say that the armed forces is not a coveted career must ask what this nation has done to make them feel coveted through the year – not just when there are floods, or earthquakes or #UriAttack.
18 soldiers died in this latest attack on India. They must be in heaven because they have already done their time in hell.
But a question that every Indian needs to ask himself/herself is how are they different from the dead, if they are not keenly interested in the institution that stands between them – and death.
They say war is too serious a business to be left to Generals.
But war is also too serious a business to be left to TV anchors, socialites and politicians.
It’s your war. It’s your children who will face the consequences of a weak army, grandstanding leaders, tactical and short term plans. If you don’t play an active participative role in that, there is no point in blaming Pakistan.
If it wasn’t them, someone else would have exploited our voids and weaknesses.
Raman was the founding CEO of NATGRID, and group president, Reliance Industries. He previously spent eleven years in the armed forces.
Corrections and clarifications: An earlier version of this article stated: "Pakistan has been a military state since just two years after their independence". That was rephrased to explain the de facto nature of Pakistan military's dominance since Jinnah's death, even when a civilian government is in power.