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Pak at crossroads after India’s paradigm shift

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Pakistan is at a crossroads. The decision it takes in the hours and days ahead is going to determine its future. It can either change course and accept that its policy of proxy war through jihadis will no longer work with respect to India, or else it can choose to continue on that slippery slope and raise the ante through a military strike against India.

Whatever it decides, it must know that the February 26 Indian airstrikes on the Pakistan Army-run terrorist camps constitute a paradigm shift in India’s strategic doctrine. The air attacks deep into Pakistani territory have made it clear that the arena has been enlarged and instead of the low-cost jihadi option, henceforth any confrontation with India must involve the regular military with all its attendant risks.

For decades, India’s posture vis-a-vis Pakistani belligerence, even aggression, has been defensive. Even the 1999 Kargil War was entirely defensive, with the Indian leadership steadfastly refusing its military the option of expanding the conflict beyond the Line of Control (LoC), which is the de facto border in most of Jammu and Kashmir state.

The Line of Control has for various reasons been considered sacrosanct by most Indian governments. This has hamstrung military options and produced a doctrine which is essentially defensive. Even the surgical strikes of 2016 by the Indian Army at terrorist targets across the Line of Control was both defensive and tactical. In the end it did not prove to be a sufficient deterrent.

India’s former Northern Army commander, Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda, said in a recent interview that the 2016 surgical........

© Deccan Chronicle