Army prepared for ‘counter-offensive’ inside India

LAHORE - Key security services have enough information regarding border points which can be the possible targets of Indian forces in a limited war or surgical strike plans, security agencies’ officials told The Nation during background interviews on the matter of New Delhi threats of limited military action.

At the same time, security agencies’ officials foresee minimum chances of Indian adventure inside the Pakistani territory, keeping in view the level of preparedness of the latter to launch a counter-offensive on the ‘soft belly points’ of Indian defence.

On Sunday, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh termed Pakistan a terrorist state, hours after suspected militants attacked an Indian army base in Uri sector in Held Kashmir.

New Delhi is attempting to link Pakistan with militant operations on its soil to paint the indigenous Kashmiris’ freedom struggle as a terrorist campaign. The Indian administration made a similar bid when its important airbase in Pathankot was targeted by suspected local militants.

Without disclosing the exact border points considered sensitive by the Indian military establishment for possible targets of limited operation, security agencies’ officials told the paper the probable targets include LoC areas, Working Boundary in Punjab with little chances in Sindh connected with Rajasthan sector.

“We have also targets for a counter-offensive in Indian territory, besides defending our own in case of their adventure. The Indian security apparatus is most likely to engage Pakistan in new proxy wars instead of launching a direct attack,” they added.

“To cover up its security misfortunes, the Indians can launch bids to heat up Balochistan, KP, Karachi and Gilgit-Baltistan through its proxies operating from Afghan soil,” they said.

About the element of surprise on part of India, which is a prerequisite for a surgical strike, security agencies’ officials said, “We don’t think there is a room for element of surprise at the disposal of Indians and they too know this fact. But we can’t discuss this matter in detail because of the compulsions of operational secrecy.”

“War has its own dynamics and can easily spiral out of control once launched. A little miscalculation in this sensitive area can bring unthinkable and horrible consequences,” said the security agencies’ officials when asked about the radius of any possible limited war or surgical strike operations.

Defence forces are alert and watching ordinary and extraordinary movements of the enemy at the borders to deal with any threat to the national security, they added.

When asked about the surgical strikes and limited war pattern, they mentioned air raids in a certain targeted area, special forces’ operations in the immediate vicinity of the targeted border points and sometimes special forces’ raids with the backup of artillery fire at the targeted border points.

Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, taking notice of New Delhi’s threats during a corps commander’s conference on Monday, said Pakistan Army was fully prepared to respond to the entire spectrum of direct and indirect threats.

Presiding over the conference at the General Headquarters, the COAS said the army was fully cognizant of, and closely watching, the latest developments in the region and their impact on the national security.

The COAS also expressed satisfaction over the operational preparedness of the army. The conference provided an in-depth review of the external and internal security situation and operational preparedness of the armed forces.


Reuters adds: For all the shrill rhetoric immediately following Sunday’s attack on an Indian army camp in Kashmir, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistan, the threat of a sudden escalation in hostilities between the nuclear-armed rivals has receded for now.

Two days after 18 Indian soldiers were killed, some officials called for a measured response and plotted a diplomatic offensive to increase pressure on Pakistan.

Military action was limited to skirmishes near the Line of Control separating the countries in Kashmir, with Indian troops killing eight people they said were trying to cross the de facto border and separately fighting four or five suspected militants.

India’s Federal Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there was a deep sense of outrage about the attack in the border town of Uri, and that patience with Pakistan was wearing thin.

But he added: “Whatever decisions the government takes in this regard will be done with full diplomatic and strategic maturity.” Prasad also warned against loose talk of conducting cross-border strikes.

Senior security officials on the ground in Indian-held Kashmir say they can manage the impulsiveness of his hardcore Hindu nationalist allies.

An official at the Indian interior ministry said the government was preparing to make a case before the United States to encourage it to take economic measures against Pakistan for failing to act against insurgents operating from its soil.

“You will see multiple serious action against Pakistan, the results will hurt their economy,” the Indian interior ministry official said.

Military officials in New Delhi and Srinagar, have cautioned against rushing into cross-border strikes that members of Modi’s right wing Bharatiya Janata Party were baying for in the hours after the raid.

“India may well decide to introduce some subtle means of punishing Pakistan into its policy toolkit,” wrote Michael Kugelman, a South Asia analyst at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center on an Indian website Rediff News.

“Forget about sending in troops or raining down missiles, but don’t rule out certain types of furtive activities, including occasional covert operations that target specific terrorist leaders or facilities.”

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