Major General Asif Ghafoor, the spokesperson of the military’s Inter-Services Public Relations, recently warned in London that “If India dares to launch a surgical strike inside Pakistan, it will face 10 surgical strikes in response.” He also said “those who think of any misadventure against us should have no doubt in their minds on Pakistan’s capabilities.” This statement caused alarm in India with the media taking it up and wondering how the Indian military would react. General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Indian Army’s Northern Command came to the rescue of the sagging morale.
Addressing the media at Palampur in Himachal Pradesh, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh was quoted as saying: “Indian Army is prepared for a range of options. I want to assure that anytime when situation warrants, we will be able to take action which is deemed appropriate at that time. A surgical strike is one of those options over a wide spectrum of options available to Indian Army, Northern Command and our great nation”. This statement does not seem to have reduced the dread among the common Indians.
Earlier, in September 2018, India had observed Parakaram Parv to commemorate the alleged valour and supposed spectacular success of the “Special Forces personnel who had launched multiple surgical strikes across the Line of Control two years ago to destroy terrorist training camps in Pakistani Kashmir.”
To this day, the Indians have not been able to show anything substantive on the alleged surgical strikes. It seems to have been more or less staged at some Bollywood facility as there is still no evidence it was carried out in AJK, the accounts being fragmented and illusive.
Meanwhile, the biennial Indian Army Commanders Conference has cleared the formation of the Integrated Battle Groups (IBG), which are smaller, self-contained fighting units comprising elements of air power, artillery, armour, etc. To be “implemented progressively in a phased manner,” they will largely replace fighting formation of corps, each comprising 8-10 brigades, with a brigade having 3-4 battalions of 800 fighting men each.
An IBG is likely to have just about six battalions. But the IBG idea is untested and would take lot of time and effort to implement. The exercise may eventually implode in a stew of inefficiency, corruption and dissent at some levels.
Also, according to media reports, the Indian Army Commanders Conference has given a go ahead to train Indian Army in different languages like Urdu, Mandarin, Dari, Pashto, etc. No wonder, Kulbhushan Yadav, the serving Indian naval officer spy arrested by Pakistan, was well-versed in local dialects and customs of Pakistan and Iranian Balochistan.
Meanwhile, a hilarious statement was made by Indian Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh who said Pakistan and China had a long-term strategy to destroy the Indian Army by smuggling in vast quantities of drugs in the country. “Two-thirds of regiments in the Indian Army are from the northern belt. If you do not have healthy youngsters there, how will Indian Army hire the men? Pakistan and China are looking at the long-term strategy to destroy Indian military system,” Singh said speaking at HT Leadership Summit 2018.
He added that Pakistan wanted to demolish the youth along the border, Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, for its own security by pushing drugs into the country. Singh explained that 500 kg of heroin was seized from Punjab in the last one year besides 80kg from Uri in Jammu and Kashmir. “What is the intention of Pakistan? Three weeks ago, 300 kg came to Mandvi port. If you want to sell it, then sell it in Mumbai or Delhi. It is more lucrative. Why is Amritsar your target?” asked Singh.
In the age of current operational environment, technological innovations and regional dynamics, the Sino-Pak strategy, if for whatever reason is true, marks an era of new doctrinal concept and approach, an innovative break with the past.