Skip to main content

Need to ask: Why did the GoI once again "use" military operation for publicity?

By Rajiv Tyagi*
On February 26 morning as I woke up at 5 am in Gurugram, I was informed of an IAF strike on Balakot, in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunwa area, approximately 200 km north-west of India's nearest Air Force station at Avantipur, South East of Srinagar. A few phone calls later, I learned it was a pre-dawn attack at 0330 hrs, which delivered 1,000 kg bombs to a designated target area.
Since then, I have been holding my horses, waiting for and actually watching a whole nation descend into hysterical paroxysms of joy and celebration, as if we have removed Pakistan from existence!
Hopefully the paroxysms are over by now. The hysterics will take a little more time to calm down. But it is now time, to analyze this action in the light of cold, sober logic after 16 hours of pointless celebration.
I have written here about the futility of attacking 'terror camps', as they do not yield any strategic enemy assets. But in this case as in many before, the Government of India (GoI) has asked the Armed Forces to act on its behalf, and the Armed Forces have delivered, only to once again be used for the personal glorification of Narendra Modi.
Also once again, we have used conventional forces to strike at extremely low-value tactical targets of an adversary that uses asymmetric warfare against us. In hindsight we can see once again, the government has used the Armed Forces in an ill-advised action, purely for propaganda purposes, without achieving any strategic or tactical goal, except maybe the minimally valid goal of delivering a military message to a recalcitrant adversary.
To understand what our government has asked the Air Force to do, it is important to first understand the technology used by fighter aircraft to acquire and destroy targets and how weapons are chosen. To carry a particular weapon load, first the nature of the target needs to be known -- is it a soft skin target, like trucks and jeeps?
In which case 30 mm front guns or rockets can be used, even rockets being overkill, 30 mm armour piercing incendiary (API) cannon rounds being sufficient to completely destroy soft skinned targets.
If armour is known to be present in the target area, 58 mm API rockets, released in a barrage of 8, 16 or 32 rockets per barrage, would be the choice, depending on the nature of the armour. If the target is an area, not point-targets like soft skinned vehicles or buildings but troop concentrations or buildings over a large area, bombs would be the choice.
There is also the choice of guided weapons, which may either be guided by reflected modulated laser or guided by an image processing or radio guidance system, depending on whether we are targeting a designated or target of opportunity or a radio transmitter like a wireless or a radar station.
The choice of weapon is also guided by the cost of the asset versus the target. For example, one can ill afford to target a tin shed or a tent, with TV-guided munitions. But then, neither should we be targeting a tin shed with a fighter aircraft, unless the tin shed is known to house a tactical or strategic target of sufficient importance to use such platforms or munitions. Cost here, is not just the acquisition cost, but a matrix of the replacement cost and the cost of availability when you actually need such munitions for their specific features.
For a pilot to deliver munitions to a ground target:
  1. The target has to be visually acquired, the weaponry selected, if it is being carried, and the pilot then delivers them to the target.
  2. If the pilot cannot visually acquire the target, like in darkness, poor visibility or other reasons, the target can be illuminated with a modulated laser illuminator wielded by a scout or other friendly forward human asset. The weapon delivery system in the aircraft then automatically guides the guided weapon to the laser illuminated target. This too however, can be victim to poor visibility, fog being capable of scattering the laser beam, rendering the weapon system ineffective.
  3. The weapon load is delivered at pre-decided coordinate(s), hoping to create maximum damage in the area.
The Balakot Mirage-2000 raid delivered 1,000 kg bombs, obviously at pre-decided coordinate(s). It is clear that we did not have a point target in mind. We wanted to deliver area munitions in the general area of a pre-decided coordinate -- a perfectly valid decision, if we are to deliver a military warning to a recalcitrant adversary.
But where did TV channels get the number of casualties from, or that a terrorist camp had been destroyed? Even the IAF would not have been able to acquire that information after a raid at 0330 hrs. Obviously, agents of the GoI are feeding this fake info to TV channels and the print medium.
Rajiv Tyagi
We know the Jaish-e-Mohammed strategic assets are in Bahawalpur and we would only find low-value tactical targets in Balakot. But we also know that Balakot is undefended by the PAF, the nearest airfield being the civilian airfield of Muzaffarabad, about 25 km South of Balakot, which serves the military station at Abbottabad.
The nearest PAF airfield, to my mind, would be Islamabad, about 100 km South of Balakot – an F16, from the time it was scrambled, would take about 10-11 minutes to reach, by which time all action would have been over.
We have to surmise this attack was ordered purely for publicity, because I think it would have been extremely embarrassing if we lost a Mirage 2000 or two in attacking Bahawalpur, with three PAF stations in the vicinity.
Indian TV channels have been baying for blood and revenge since February 14, and given the raised temperatures, the PAF would already be on standby to mount combat air patrol or interception at very short notice. After all, we wanted the publicity of having mounted a response to Pulwama, without the consequences of war or the embarrassment of losing assets.
More than any other discussion, we need to ask, why did the GoI once again use a military operation for publicity? Consider the consequences now -- we have violated an international border to deliver munitions at a target inside Pakistan, and instead of keeping it a secret, we have publicized it so much, with every minion of the government saying something or the other on the subject, that we have denied ourselves all plausible deniability!
Pakistan will now go to the UN and say India attacked it without provocation. And we cannot even deny the attack! Stupid! We are now aggressors, instead of defenders. In contrast, Pakistan used asymmetric assets against us in Pulwama, without losing plausible deniability.
In a different dimension, we have frittered away the traditional Russian UNSC veto, which has been exercised in our favour innumerable times in the past, have invited the Chinese veto against us, and not at all gained the US veto to our side.
The US geopolitical interest still lies in Pakistan, not in India, because AF-Pak is still a US geopolitical engagement, with a Shia nuclear-capable Iran to the West of this region and a Sunni Pakistan closely allied to another vital US geopolitical interest, Saudi Arabia.
So now if the UNSC resolves any action against India, which UNSC veto-power will we turn to, to exercise its veto in our favour, to preclude such action?
I don't know what has happened to our populace. We have become a very stupid and a very hysterical nation, almost akin to caricatures out of a cartoon movie. And we vote for politicians exactly like us.
---
*Erstwhile IAF fighter pilot and a commentator on social media. Source: Author's Facebook timeline

Comments

TRENDING

Economist-editor's allegations on Narmada defamatory, baseless: Medha Patkar

Counterview Desk  In a reply directly addressed to well-known economist, journalist and columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s two articles in the Times of India (republished here and here ), calling them defamatory and wondering whether they were borne out of “ignorance or a conspiracy through political alliance”, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Pakar has said that the Narmada Sardar Saravar Project and the people's movement by adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers, potters and all the generations’ old communities from the river valley have suddenly come to be focused on, since the Gujarat elections are in the doorstep. She believes that while the “defamatory accusations with baseless conceptions such as ‘urban naxals’ are to be laughed at as the electoral strategic moves, one gets shocked to read the articles by a known old columnist like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar, published in a reputed daily like the Times of India." According to her, Aiyar’s two articl

Hindutva groups threat to peace, freedom: US diaspora groups tell FBI, other govt depts

By Our Representative  The Islamophobic and neo-Nazi ideology of Hindutva is a clear and present danger to peace and freedoms in the United States, a coalition of civil rights organizations told key officials of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at a recent event in Edison, New Jersey. At the event titled United Against Hate, activists from American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) made detailed presentations on this ideology of Hindu supremacism that is committing mass persecution of India’s Muslims and Christians and is rearing its ugly head in New Jersey as well as across the US. Attending the event were David S Leonardis, Special Investigator from the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety; Michael E Campion, Chief of the Civil Rights Division for the US Attorney General's Office; and Jonathan R Norbut of the U.S. Dep

Facing tough times, Rajasthan's Raika herders hold first-ever camel cheese festival

By Rosamma Thomas*  During the pandemic, the annual Pushkar camel fair in Rajasthan did not occur for fear of contagion; in 2022, it was called off again as lumpy skin disease affected cattle. At Sadri in Pali district, however, festivity continues – a two-day Camel Cheese Festival was held on November 23 and 24, 2022. Visitors spent time with the camel herds and their Raika, drank camel-milk tea with the herders and then returned to lunch at the Kumbhalgarh Camel Dairy, from where the Kumbhalgarh Fort is visible, to taste camel cheese. The Raika herders have been facing a tough time – camels are no longer used as much for transport or agriculture in Rajasthan. The animals have limited utility, but their milk is prized. Camel Charisma, the dairy at Kumbhalgarh, sends camel milk across the country to people who use it in therapy – for autistic children, improved blood sugar levels, or even to treat cancer. It is believed that the health benefits of the camel milk is because the animals

As polls approach, electorate 'failing to realise': Gujarat model is in a shambles

By DN Rath*  Gujarat assembly elections, scheduled to be held on 1 and 5 December 2022, is viewed by many as dress rehearsal for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. When the suffering people have been pointing towards redressal of some local issues like absence of cleanliness, sewage problem, shortage of water supply, troubles created by stray cattle, insufficiency of streetlights, etc., it is evident that they are not fully aware that assembly elections are being fought on ideological standpoints and policy decisions. Nor is there the realisation that the state is in a shambles and the much-trumpeted ‘Gujarat model’ of development has proved to be a hoax. Like other states, the people of Gujarat are also back-broken by steep rise in prices to the tune of 400% in last 20 years. It is not that the government cannot control the spurt in prices if it so wants. Apart from the fact that price rise is an inevitability in a capitalist economy, artificial shortage triggered by massive hoarding, b

Shedding Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan? New Modi-Shah love for Tamil Nadu 'ignores' Periyar

By Sandeep Pandey*   The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) or the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) have long argued for ‘Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan’, which into recent years has translated into a crisper English expression: ‘One Nation-One Religion-One Language’. Given this backdrop, it is curious that the BJP government has organised the Kashi Tamil Sangamam in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency. Why did the BJP and RSS feel the need for such an event? All Narendra Modi events are highly publicised and have multiple political objectives. It is never an innocuous religious/cultural event as it may appear from the face of it. Afterall, RSS calls itself a cultural organisation, but has never ceased to surprise us with its political designs. Tamil Nadu has a long history of opposing imposition of Hindi by Union governments. Periyar EV Ramasamy had opposed the idea of compulsory teaching in Hindi as far back as in 1937. The 1960s witnessed violent protests against Hindi in which a number

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

BJP poll gimmick? Bilkis Bano rape case 'pardon' vs Rajiv assassins' release

By Sandeep Pandey*  Supreme Court has released six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This was bound to happen as earlier AG Perarivalan was released in the same case, setting a precedent. Even though four of them are Sri Lankans but a popular Tamil sentiment favoured the release of these convicts which is why Tamil political parties supported this and resolutions were passed by different governments in Tamil Nadu to his effect.  Rajiv Gandhi paid the price of sending Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka where it got entangled with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and eventually the whole operation ended up is a fiasco.  However, most importantly Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi and probably Rahul too do not have any objections to the release of these convicts. In fact, Sonia Gandhi played an important role in getting the death sentence of the only lady among the convicts Nalini commuted to life term through the Tamil Nadu Governor. Priyanka visited Nalini in Vellore Jail and

GM mustard not swadeshi, it's a patent of MNC Bayer, GoI 'misleading' SC: Modi told

Counterview Desk  In a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as many as 42 farmers’ organisations though their representatives , backed by senior scientists and experts, have said that the Government of India (GoI) should stop misleading the Supreme Court “with untrue and incorrect” statements on GM mustard. Insisting that India does not need unsafe GM mustard, in their representation, they urged the Supreme Court to order immediate uprooting of GM mustard crop in various locations. The representation comes even as a penal of experts, coming down heavily on the GoI for refusing to see how in less than a week’s time the pollen from GM mustard will “start contaminating” non-GM mustard fields with transgenes, including male sterility and herbicide tolerant traits. Alleging that the GoI is actively misleading the Supreme Court with untrue and incorrect statements on GM mustard, Kavitha Kuruganti of the Coalition for a GM-Free India said, “We can list at least five areas where Gov

Amit Shah accused of inciting communal passion: Demand to postpone Gujarat polls

Counterview Desk  In an email representation to the Election Commission of India (ECI), Dr EAS Sarma, former secretary to the Government of India, has objected to the statement reported to have been made by Union home minister Amit Shah, who allegedly justified the 2002 Gujarat riots stating that certain sections of people “taught a lesson” to the rioters. Noting that the statement, if correct, “in effect implies those other than the law enforcement authorities had taken law into their hands”, Sarma says, “Shah's statement needs to be viewed by the ECI in conjunction with the reported fact that it was the Union Home Ministry that cleared the release of the eleven rape convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, directly related to the infamous Godhra incidents in 2002, which triggered the shameful sequence of events that shook the nation's conscience.” According to Sarma, if the statement is true, “I am constrained to draw the inevitable inference that it would have already impacted th

Never-ending saga of sin tax: What if murder is taxed at Rs 1 crore, rape at Rs 5 crore?

By Moses Raj GS, Sangeetha Thomas*  What should have ended by June 30, 2022 as a 5 year experiment has resurfaced. The government has extended the levy of GST compensation cess by another 4 years till March 31, 2026. This cess, dubbed as the sin tax imposed on sin(ful) goods, is double the highest slab on indirect taxes. But only a few pay for it and the majority benefit, unendingly. The year 2017 is a landmark year for indirect taxes. With the grand idea of ‘One Nation, One Tax’ as a fiscal slogan subsuming all State based taxes such as octroi /entry tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), sales tax, taxes on lottery, betting and gambling, luxury tax, purchase tax, entertainment tax, property tax, professional tax and central sales tax into a single framework of Goods and Services Tax (GST) changed the contours of revenue collection. Complicating it further, India, with each State having its own size and revenue problems, has the most complex and highly centralised indirect tax structure in the w