The war drums can clearly be heard in our subcontinent.
The Indian army's "surgical' strike" 3km inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is said to have killed 50 terrorists and hit seven of their camps and has been widely acclaimed in India as a great victory, with a lot of clapping and cheering. But it is doubtful whether the "surgery" destroyed all the cancer cells. In fact it is likely to cause more metastasis.
The Pakistan army and security forces were clearly taken by surprise by this attack, just like the Hessians were on 25-26 December 1776 when George Washington's soldiers crossed the Delaware River and attacked them, catching them unexpectedly.
[A]nyone even remotely suspected to be a terrorist will be targeted by our army. This is bound to cause huge civilian casualties, causing more hatred of our forces, and more resistance...
But now the element of surprise is over. The Pakistanis and the terrorists will henceforth be on their guard, and our army cannot again catch them with their pants down. The camps near the LoC must have been shifted far away from there by now; locating and attacking them 30,40 or 50km away from the LoC is quite a different cup of tea. To attack them again will meet with stiff resistance by the Pakistanis, and may even result in all-out war.
But some events, once begun, have their own logic. There will definitely be more strikes by the Kashmiri militants on our security forces, the attack at Kulgam being an example, and some of our soldiers will be killed in them. There will then be pressure on our government and army to retaliate, and the coming elections in UP, Punjab, etc will add to the motivation.
But how will that retaliation take place?
To my mind, it can take place in one of two ways (or both of them simultaneously).
1. Our army may attack some terrorist camps in PoK or Pakistan. The problem, however, here is that this now has to be done deep across the LoC, and not merely 3 or 4km from it (since the camps near the LoC would have been shifted by now), and will meet with strong opposition from the Pakistani forces. And it must be remembered that Pakistan is not alone—it has the backing of China, a super power, which has made huge investments in Balochistan, and will therefore not allow Pakistan to go under. It is very likely that China has supplied sophisticated weapons to the Kashmiri militants, and will supply more.
2. Attacks will be made by our army and paramilitary forces on the Kashmiri militants within Kashmir (like the "search and destroy" missions of the American army in Vietnam). But here the problem will be, as it was for the Americans in Vietnam, of identifying the militants. Usually they will not be in any uniform, and since they have the sympathy of the people, can merge with them any time. The result will be that anyone even remotely suspected to be a terrorist, even though really innocent, will be targeted by our army. This is bound to cause huge civilian casualties, causing more hatred of our forces, and more resistance, as it happened in Vietnam. The guerrilla war will grow and grow, arms being supplied by China, via Pakistan.
An army can fight another army, it cannot fight the masses. A tiger can attack a huge prey, it cannot attack a swarm of mosquitoes.
The truth is that almost the entire Kashmiri population has turned hostile to India, and the situation of the Indian army in Kashmir is like Napoleon's "Spanish ulcer".
An army can fight another army, it cannot fight the masses. A tiger can attack a huge prey, it cannot attack a swarm of mosquitoes. In a conventional war one usually knows where the enemy is located. In a guerrilla war, the enemy is everywhere, he is nowhere. A guerrilla fights by hit and run tactics. He chooses the place, time and duration of the attack, and prepares thoroughly before making it. He equally thoroughly prepares the manner of retreat after the attack. If he has popular support, which the Kashmiri militant undoubtedly has (however much some people may deny it), he has far better intelligence (as the Vietcong had ) and is given sanctuary, food and other supplies by the people.
It is time to face realities. The war drums are sounding.