“Month after surgical strikes: Appraisal of India’s new strategy of dealing with Pakistan”

Exactly a month ago, Indian special forces crossed the Line of Control (LoC) to prevent imminent infiltration of Pakistan-sponsored terrorists into Indian territory. While this was certainly not the first time such an action was undertaken, the government’s decision to publicise this attack and, therefore, signal to Pakistan that it no longer buys the logic of inexorable escalation that was supposed to follow any Indian breach of the LoC – however limited – certainly establishes New Delhi’s intention to forge a new course in its dealings with Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

This is as good as any occasion gets to record what the strikes have established – and what they haven’t.

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“Situating the Uri terror attack within Pakistan’s strategy of provocation and escalation”

Sunday morning’s attack on an army support facility in Uri is one of the largest such attacks since the start of the Pakistan-sponsored insurgency in Kashmir in the 1990s. Through a meticulously-planned operation that showed a keen awareness of that facility’s vulnerability in an otherwise heavily-fortified area, Pakistan has signalled to India that it is willing to stir the pot in Kashmir with greater vigour, and that it is not averse to ratcheting up the sub-conventional conflict there.

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“Surgical strikes along LoC puts South Asia on cusp of new India-Pakistan dynamic”

There is a broad consensus after Thursday morning’s daring surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads across the LoC by Indian Special Forces that we are on the cusp of a new dynamic between India and Pakistan. By shedding the posture of strategic restraint — whatever that meant — the Government of India, in one fell stroke, has called Pakistan’s nuclear bluff. The primary task for planners in New Delhi will now be to assess and exploit this new-found space for extremely limited military action in meeting Pakistan’s penchant for proxy warfare. As such, they will have to pay close attention to the emerging contours — and implications — of the new dynamic.

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“Indian Army attack across LoC using surgical strikes meant to probe Pakistan’s threshold for escalation”

In a dramatic turn of events, the Indian Army on Thursday confirmed that it had carried out surgical strikes against “terrorist launch pads” across the LoC last night. The Director General of Military Operation (DGMO) Lt. Gen Ranbir Singh revealed that these strikes were to neutralise imminent infiltration into Indian territory. The targets of this infiltration bid, according to Lt. Gen. Singh, were in Kashmir as well as other Indian cities. While the details of this operation are unknown at this time, the DGMO has suggested that the surgical strikes were extremely successful in neutralising a significant number of infiltrators and their supporters. It is likely that the strikes were also aimed at forward positions of the Pakistani Army along the LoC that has provided cover fire — and other support — to infiltrators in the past.

While this may not be the first time Indian armed forces have carried out surgical strikes across the LoC, a few details stand out in the manner they were disclosed.

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“Narendra Modi’s Independence Day take on Balochistan is a foreign policy milestone”

When the dust settles, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech on Monday will go down in the annals of Indian foreign policy as a watershed event. By implicitly calling Pakistan’s extant territorial claims into question – Balochistan makes for more than 40 percent of that country’s landmass – Prime Minister Modi has brought a new and bold thrust to India’s unfortunately middling – and often muddled – Pakistan policy.

Analysts thrive on turning points – Modi’s speech been no different. Tuesday morning’s newspapers have also included voices opining that by drawing Balochistan to the already-volatile geopolitical mix, India runs the risk of scoring tactical victories at the risk of sacrificing its grand strategy of regional stability. It has also been suggested that New Delhi – by upping the ante in Balochistan – could take its eye of the real challenge, Kashmir. These are well-meaning and informed voices.

Nevertheless, they are mistaken on both counts. India’s Balochistan strategy could indeed become what dissuades Pakistan from further fuelling the Kashmir crisis. It could also be designed in a way that the “nuclear stakes,” as one analyst called them, are annulled.

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“On Independence Day, Narendra Modi pokes Pakistan with Baloch, Gilgit, PoK: Big shift”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement about Pakistan’s human rights violations in Balochistan (and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) is a welcome turning point for India’s Pakistan policy, which has been more-of-the-same in the recent past. As such, it has been in the making since the Modi government came to power.

National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval’s now-infamous reference to India’s potential to disrupt Pakistan’s status quo through Balochistan (albeit made before he became NSA) and the emergence of a Modi/Doval national security doctrine based on a more forceful use of what Doval calls “coercive state instrumentalities” implies that it is not too fanciful to imagine India playing the Balochi card more forcefully in the future. The implicit governmental backing of exiled leader Naela Quadri Baloch’s much-publicised India visit in April will now be viewed through the lens of a nascent Balochistan strategy.

The contours of this strategy will be drawn using diplomatic as well as intelligence assets. It will range from being vocal about Pakistan’s excesses in that region, to creating sub-conventional space in order to deter Pakistan’s nefarious Kashmir policy. But it is exceedingly important that this strategy be sensitive to the region’s geopolitics. Principally, there are two other states India will have to deftly handle when it comes to using Balochistan to pay Pakistan using its own coin: China and Iran. Each of these states have a convoluted relationship with both India and Pakistan, and how they are handled will largely determine the success or failure of India’s Balochistan strategy.
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“Al-Qaeda 2.o? Meet Abu Mus’ab al-Suri and his grand strategy for the Islamic State”

In November last year, Paris suffered its biggest terrorist attack in modern history when 130 people died in a series of shootings and bombings across the city. The mastermind of the attack, a Belgian national Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was suspected to have travelled to Syria in the past. All of his accomplices were nationals of the European Union. The following month, an American couple of Pakistani origin, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people in a shooting in the Californian city of San Bernardino. No direct ties to any extremist group were found – beyond evidence of self-radicalisation.

A nightclub in Orlando, Florida, was attacked by an American of Afghan descent in June this year, the biggest mass-shooting in US history. The attacker, Omar Mateen, was troubled though not having shown in any overt signs of being radicalised. He pledged allegiance to Islamic State head – and self-proclaimed caliph – Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi only during a call to an emergency line during the shooting.

Paris, San Bernardino, Orlando, Dhaka, Nice. What connects them, beyond the fact that all of the attackers had – in one way or another – operated under the IS banner? Are they, as the media is fond of saying, “lone wolves,” whose actions are being cleverly coopted by the IS? Or are they proverbial pawns in IS’ grand strategy? What is IS’ grand strategy? The answers to these questions may lie in the writings of one man, Abu Mus’ab al-Suri – a Syrian national with Spanish citizenship who was once described by a journalist as resembling an “Irish pub patron”. Al-Suri is now in a prison in Syria, having been rendered there by the CIA after he was captured in Quetta, Pakistan, in 2005. His ideas, on the other hand, are very much at play.

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