Consequent to the attack on an army unit at Uri, where 19 soldiers were killed and larger number injured, retaliation to this action by Pakistan had become inescapable. Accordingly Indian army struck at seven locations across the LoC where terrorists were waiting to cross over into J and k across the LoC. The fact that Indian intelligence agencies were able to obtain information concerning the forward staging camps of these terrorist groups, their precise locations and timings is indeed a marked advancement in their performance otherwise dismal record.

Pakistan has denied these surgical strikes and has termed them as ‘ fabrication’ claiming that the opposing forces only exchanged fire across the LoC in which two soldiers died. This stance is understandable, as otherwise it would lower the prestige and standing of its army for having been caught napping at so many places. However by this denial Pakistan has forclosed the case for an open retaliation by its military.

What can now be expected cross border, are terrorist attacks, with renewed energy and frequency. By increased cross border infiltration Pakistan would not only like the ongoing trouble in the Kashmir Valley to continue but would very much want it to pick up added momentum.

It would be an overreaction on the part of India to contemplate any Pakistani move to start raids across the international border, if not a war. Therefore, evacuation of people from villages along the border, in Punjab and perhaps in Jammu sector is decidedly premature and uncalled for. There is greater likelihood of increased attempt at infiltration across the LoC and attacks on military establishments and police posts etc.

Therefore, greater vigilance is called for, both along the LoC and elsewhere at military and police camps. There could be sporadic shelling across the borders. As Pakistan’s army chief, Raheel Sharief’s time to retire is fast approaching, some dramatic act from the Pak army cannot be ruled out. After all, not withstanding his own announcement to retire, he may have larger ambitions and exploit his popularity amongst the people of Pakistan and nurse the hope that a critical situation may call for his continuance in office. After all he has been quite vociferous on the capabilities of his army to deal with India.

It is a bit immature on the part of the Bharatiya Janata Party to celebrate these surgical strikes and gloat over what it is calling as paradigm change in India’s response to Pakistan’s perfidy. Though this line may be articulated at image building with an eye on the coming state elections , but such chest thumping sounds a bit immature. While Russia has appreciated these surgical strikes, it seems to have sounded alarm bells in some quarters in that the American ambassador to India, Richard Verma had to cut short his leave and rush back to Delhi.

However these strikes were calibrated with a measure of restraint. Though Shimla Agreement had ipso-facto taken LAC as the boundary in J and K between India and Pakistan and termed it as LoC, it was hoped that its sanctity will be maintained till the two parties find a solution through negotiations. But Pakistan over a period of time has been violating it and even establishing its posts across this line to be thrown back every time with avoidable casualties on both sides.

It would be in line with Pakistan’s policy to not only keep the fires burning in the Valley but to increase their intensity. That the Kashmir situation has been mishandled all along is merely repeating a well known fact. Pakistan’s efforts to draw international attention to Kashmir and the virulent false propaganda of atrocities being committed by Indian security forces has had no response from the world community. The world appears to be a bit tired of Pakistan’s crying wolf far too often.

What is a more likely reaction from Pakistan is to infiltrate more and more terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir, more so before the onset of winter and before the passes on the Pirpanjal close. There may also be an attempt to stage a dramatic action by a terrorist group. Therefore, India needs to shift military units deployed in the valley to LoC, leaving the interior to the care of police, state and central. It is also time to take into custody the separatist s leaders and the other trouble makers.

Diplomatic efforts to paint Pakistan as a terrorist state must continue. At the same time efforts to dissuade Pakistan from treading the path of terrorism needs to be pursued. Also the point that terrorism and treaties cannot cohabit needs to be made clear to that country.

Equally it is an opportunate time to seriously consider dividing the state of J and K into three, separate states, that is, one, Kashmir valley to include Tangdhar , two, Jammu region to include. Poonch-Rajouri, Doda - Kishtwar and three, Ladakh to include all areas North of Zojila Pass. Consequent to this each of these three states can review the continuity of Article 370. Economic development of these three regions lies in their trifurcation.

(Lt General Harwant Singh (Retired) is a former Vice Chief of Army Staff)

(File Photograph of a India Pakistan flag meeting)