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Pro-Modi international expert advises government to "engage" Pakistan in conventional war, especially in PoK

By Our Representative
A top pro-Narendra Modi international politics expert, Prof Rajesh Rajagopalan, has advised the Government of India to consider adopting "military options to respond to Pakistan's transgressions", instead of limiting its options to "calling off
talks each time Pakistan engages" India in terrorist activities.
The "advise" comes in an article released by the Reliance Industries Ltd think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF) amidst what he calls "pressure" on Modi from opposition parties and others to "suspend the forthcoming National Security Advisor (NSA) level talks between India and Pakistan." Dr Rajagopalan is a professor of international relations in the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi.
Pointing out that Modi shouldn't think of canceling talks with Pakistan, but while always remaining open to talks with Pakistan at any time on any subject, he "should develop options to respond with force to Pakistan's own use of force."
"India is not only fully justified in using force to respond to force, dealing with foreign threats is the state's primary responsibility", the professor says, adding, "Both terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir and by Pakistan-supported groups in other parts of India should be considered direct use of force by Pakistan against India to which India must respond with force".
Pointing out that "there is little reason for India to assume that terrorist attack is not officially sanctioned" by Pakistan, the expert says, "That these attacks are being carried out by 'non-state actors' is a ridiculous defence. Considering that these groups are trained, armed and tasked by Pakistan's security establishment, they should be considered a direct use of force against India."
"Every time India refuses to respond to a terrorist attack, while Indian leaders talk of our patience not being unlimited, it strengthens Pakistan's conviction that they have found something akin to India's strategic Achilles heel", the expert underscores, adding, "As long as India refuses to escalate, Pakistan holds the upper hand and India will have to continue suffering".
"Rawalpindi thinks it is relatively weaker in conventional military strength and fears that India means it mortal harm", the expert says, suggesting India must take advantage of this.
"Despite the Pakistan Army's paranoia, no Indian leadership has pursued annihilation (or assimilation, which might be the same thing) of Pakistan as a strategic goal or anything that comes even remotely close to this", the expert says, adding, "India's military objective should be to punish the Pakistan Army."
Criticizing the Vajpayee government for failing to escalate, including using air power, even as limiting India's use of force to the Indian side of the LoC during Pakistan's Kargil misadventure, the expert believes, India should go in for conventional war options, which alone "can further reduce the risk of any nuclear escalation by Pakistan by limiting Indian military objectives to Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK)".
"Focusing on PoK gives India multiple benefits. It is a territory that India claims and India would have some justification in trying to seize territory here", the expert says, adding, "Moreover, Pakistan's frequent claims to be speaking on behalf of the Kashmiris reduces the probability that Pakistan might consider the use of nuclear weapons in this theatre".
"A military defeat in PoK would also represent a significant defeat for the Pakistan Army, which should be the primary strategic objective since it is the Pakistan Army that sponsors anti-Indian terror and thus the appropriate target of India's deterrence efforts", the expert says.
He adds, "PoK also offers a variety of territorial targets that allows India to adjust the scale of response, from possibly seizing border posts that engage in cross-border firing to targets much deeper in PoK such as the Karakoram highway or other targets."

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