DESPITE PAKISTANI denials, let us not be in any doubt that the recent ambushing and mutilation of two soldiers of Indian Army in Mendhar Sector of Poonch in absolute foggy conditions on the morning of 8 Jan 2013 was a pre-planned action by the 29 Baloch Regiment of the Pakistani SSG Group with an aim to escalate the violence along the 770 km long LOC in J&K and send India a message.
Rehman Malik made light of this case amounting to mockery of India’s sentiments resulting in adverse public opinion fall out. Realizing that repeat of this incident at this stage will escalate India-Pakistan tensions many fold, Pakistani Army planned this operation. Army Chief General Bikram Singh is very right in his recent statement that this was a premeditated action by Pakistani Army.
The big question is, Pakistan which is a bankrupt country living on US doles, and is beset by internal strife and terror related attacks leading to 3000 people at an average getting killed every year, and also has a very volatile Western Border with Afghanistan - then why does it want to destabilize its comparatively quiet eastern border with India? This question has perplexed many analysts but knowing Pakistani Army and ISI this is exactly how the Pakistani Generals operate. They are working on a well-planned strategy.
Just six months back, with Americans having killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Durand Line and US-Pak relations at their worst nadir, Pakistani Army Chief General Parvez Asfaq Kayani was all for peace with India. He made a specific call to India to settle Siachin Dispute amicably after 135 Pakistani soldiers got killed in an avalanche there last year. It was with the blessings of the Pakistani Army that Indo-Pak peace process once again started chugging along.
Things, however, have changed since then. Obama has been re-elected as American President. He has more or less publicly acknowledged that the American Afghanistan policy has failed. Now, he wants to withdraw post haste from Afghanistan by 2014 without leaving behind any residual troops. Towards this end Pakistan has been restored the three billion dollar American aid.
The withdrawing American troops with their heavy war equipment have to pass through the Durand line and Pakistan. They will definitely be attacked by Taliban all along with an aim that they leave behind this war material and do not ever come back to Afghanistan again. Pakistan is a party to this plan. However, the 140000 Pakistani troops stationed on Durand Line at the American behest and being paid for by the Americans are required to stop this to happen. But then if LOC gets activated on the Eastern Border of Pakistan with India, giving an excuse to Pakistan to withdraw bulk of its troops from its Western Border of Afghanistan to Indian Border in national interest blaming India, two birds get killed with one stone.
Gen Kayani the Pakistan Army Chief who is already on a three-year unprecedented extension in Pakistan Army history is retiring in September this year. Along with him three of the top Corps Commanders of Pakistani Army out of its 11 Corps Commanders are retiring. This will create big void in Pak Army hierarchy. Kayani can not get extension now because the junior Crops Commander are seething with rage of them being denied the Chiefs appointment. However if a war like situation gets created at the Indian borders then it is a different matter and nobody will deny Kayani an extension.
Pakistan is facing General elections in a few months from now. Pakistani Army does not want the current PPP Government in power to come back because twice this current Government of Pakistan tried to cut Army to size. The other major player Nawaz Sharif and his party PQML (Nawaz) is suspect in the eyes of the Army because it was Pakistani Army who not only dethroned Navaz Sharif in a coup but also exiled him from the country for seven years.
Pakistani Army along with fundamentalist parties will like the new comer Imran Khan with his Tehriq-e-Insaf party to win. This will be a puppet regime for Pak Army to play as they please. For this to happen Pakistani Army must create a tense situation Along Indian border to bounce back in good will of people of Pakistan. Incidentally both PPP and Navaz want peace with India an anathema to Pakistan Army.
It is good that the current Indian Government has not fallen to this Pakistani trap by over-reacting on this border incident. It is also a sensible approach by the current UPA Government in power that it has laid out clear policy for Indian Army to settle the scores with Pakistani Army at the LOC by reacting to any provocation by Pakistani Army with a suitable offensive action in a graded professional manner while Government itself is offering carrots. This will ensure for the Pakistani Army that they will have to pay heavy price on the border for any mischief and the morale of Indian Army will remain high. At the same time the Civilian Government of Pakistan has been left with a peace full option should they pick courage to confront their Army.