The recent attack in Jammu cantonment by terrorists from across the border, where five army men and a few civilians, have been killed, is part of the continuing policy of thousand cuts adopted by Pakistan against India.

India has not been able to evolve well thought out and a viable strategy to counter all such nefarious activities by Pakistan. Resorting to firing on the LoC, both of small arms and artillery is a zero sum game, because Pakistan too can do the same. Such firing disrupts lives of civilians living close to the LoC and IB, damage their properties, besides inflicting casualties, both amongst military and civilians.

The so called, ‘Surgical Strikes,’ and subsequent, chest thumping and efforts to draw political millage from these could only lead to further escalation of tension and renewed efforts by Pakistan at retaliation, perhaps in another form, i.e. sending more and more terrorists across IB and LoC to target civil and military establishments.

These cross border terrorist attacks against military establishments has resulted in deployment of disproportionately large number of troops, around the clock, for perimeter security of unit areas on one part and building of walls and high perimeter fencing around unit lines. Such like practices has the possible fallout of creating a siege mentality amongst troops and units. In addition large amount of funds are required for such walls and fencing.

More recently MoD has released Rs 1487- crores for fencing of military units and establishments near the LoC and IB. Though Recommendations to the MoD for sanctioning these funds were made some three years ago. The same amount of funds deployed on the fencing along the LoC and IB ( in Jammu area and Northern Punjab ) to install high end surveillance equipment would be a far better proposition. Needless to say that terrorists are best eliminated at the country’s boundaries itself.

This activity of cross border terrorist attacks by Pakistan are not going to end any time soon, because, that country is aware of the fact that India’s options to retaliate in substance are limited and further China will continue to propel Pakistan on this course.

Indian army is low on modernization, short on equipment, military stores and ammunition, a state well known to Pakistan. Pakistan has stockpiled nuclear weapons to match that of India’s stocks and has also moved ahead to develop Tactical Nuclear Weapons ( TNW ) to counter any limited offensive by India. Development of TNWs appears to have been undertaken to counter what some, so called, ‘defence experts,’ in India started propagating adoption of, ‘Cold Start concept,’ without understanding the pitfalls of such concepts.

There is much anger, belligerence and straining of vocal cords during the so called TV channels, ‘debates,’ demanding strong action by Indian military against Pakistan. Not to be left behind, print media too has voiced action against Pakistan. Yet none of these had a moment to spare or inclination to ask the government as to why India’s defence budget for 2018-19 is abysmally so low: in fact lowest since 1962.

No one has ever asked as to why has the Indian military been starved of funds for so long and consequently led it to a state where shortages of weapons, equipment and ammunition are indeed alarming. Why has high tech weapons technology been made to bypass India’s military. Why with over, four dozen, DRDO establishments, country still has to import seventy percent of defence requirements, where even as simple a weapon as rifle has to be imported!

In these circumstances India’s military options to make Pakistan desist from these nefarious activities are indeed limited. Therefore, there is the requirement to examine other avenues to make Pakistan see reason and drop this policy of cross border terrorism.

The first of these is to warn Pakistan that any more terrorist attack from it on civil or military targets on Indian side of the border will result in, one, move to designate Pakistan as a terrorist state, two, withdrawal of Most Favoured Nation facility and three, termination of Indus Water Treaty and in the case of last of these three, so apprise the World Bank. After all treaties and terrorism cannot go hand in hand.

As long as Pakistan‘s military is in a position to lay down that country’s policies towards India, there is little hope for events to take turn for the better. Therefore, India must be prepared for the long haul. Equally we need loose no time to upgrade our military capabilities, make up glaring deficiencies in technology, weapons, ammunition, fighter aircrafts etc. Large scale disinvestment of Defence PSUs, Ordinance factories and DRDO establishments, which have outlived their utility, is called for to raise funds to upgrade the Indian defence forces.

Any serious problem with Pakistan will draw China into the issues confronting the two nations. In the event of a shooting match between India and Pakistan, China is likely to activate Tibet border. So India have to be prepared for such an eventuality.

(Lt General Harwant Singh is retired from the Indian Army. These views are personal to him)