31 July, 2021

From ‘All-Out War’ to ‘Controlled War’

From ‘all-out war’ to ‘controlled war’, India has changed gear in its military response to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism

Lethal Weapon
An Indian MiG-29 during an exercise.
Photograph by AP
From ‘All-Out War’ to ‘Controlled War’

As young officers in the Indian army in the late seventies, we learnt that the Line of Control (LoC) is a zone of NWNP (No war no peace). Over the years we saw the scenario change into ‘forever at war’, as India got embroiled in fighting a hybrid war waged by Pakistan, using jehadis as proxy.  The hostility manifested as terrorist actions, gun duels along the Line of Control, Border Action Teams (BAT), propaganda, indoctrination, radicalisation of the population and so on. Several new coinages came into the lexicon to describe the state of affairs—fragile peace, situation simmering, pot boiling and so on; semantics for justifying and tolerating abnormality as the ‘new normal’.

For too long, India has fought this proxy war with two self-imposed ­limitations. First, geographical i.e. ­­the Line of Control is the ‘Lakshman­rekha’. Second, the type of force i.e. fight primarily with the army, CAPF (Central Armed Police Forces) and state police. Employ weapons only ­up to a certain calibre. India, unlike...

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