The exercise is being conducted in Thar desert, the same which on Pakistani side of the border is a living paradise of good governance.
The timing of this massive exercise is starkly intriguing. Let’s look at the horizon from New Delhi; Pakistan’s political forces are in total disarray, governance structure is collapsing, those who are supposed to put the house in order and safeguard national assets have disappeared from the national scene in droves to cool their heels in off-shore locations and the military who can resist any adventure has been forced to fighting gangs of dacoits and criminals. For Indians, it is godsend. International scene is no less favorable; Iran is licking its wounds inflicted by Pakistani establishment on discovering RAW network operating from their soil, Saudi Arabia is unhappy with Pakistan so much that it has conferred its highest civil award on Modi, known for perpetrating Muslim genocide in Gujarat.
This probably would be most opportune moment for Indians to test waters with Pakistan. They are conducting massive exercises to validate their infamous “proactive war strategy” which entails swiftly mobilizing to hit hard with multiple conventional military strikes across the Pakistan border. The exercise codenamed “Shatrujeet”, is being conducted nowhere else but in the Thar desert, the same which on Pakistani side of the border is a living paradise of good governance.
According to Indian media, several armored, artillery and infantry formations have been mobilized for the high-tempo operations conducted under a simulated nuclear, biological, chemical (NBC) warfare environment. There are naked threats of massive and harsh retaliation should Pakistan mobilize its battlefield nukes or tactical nukes.
The exercise which is being conducted to test proactive war strategy is utterly provocative particularly in the backdrop of arrest of Commander Kulbhushan Yadav, a senior RAW operative involved in directing terrorist activities in Pakistan’s Balochistan province and Karachi. India suffered international humiliation when Pakistani establishment, and not the politicians, made right amount of noise. In addition to this, Pakistani leader and dove-in-chief is embroiled in a serious crisis and has moved to London, lock, stock and barrel. He is not alone in having been exposed through Panama Papers but other leaders were forced to quit whereas he has disappeared from the scene.
It is not clear if he was under pressure from the establishment to quit honorably but India will try to keep Pakistan under pressure.
There have been talks about India’s Cold Start doctrine which India never clearly owned. This doctrine, which now has been replaced by proactive war strategy, aimed at rapid but limited retaliatory incursions into Pakistan by the Indian army to seize and hold narrow slices of territory in response to a terrorism event in India involving Pakistanis. In India’s calculations, Pakistan would not resort to the use of nuclear weapons in response to a limited Indian incursion, thereby offering space for conventional conflict even in a nuclearized environment. To counter either of the doctrines, Pakistan developed battlefield nukes in order to ward off Indian aggression but has been under tremendous US pressure to abandon it. Thanks to establishment again, Pakistan resisted this pressure and declared to pursue the strategy of Full Spectrum Deterrence, a clear messages to use anything it takes to defend the country.
The exercise which is currently under way in Indian Thar is clearly provocative. If it is to distract world attention from India’s proven role in Pakistan’s destabilization, it may not work. India should also not rely too much on its new love affair with the House of Saud. It has been given a clear message by the OIC that Muslim Ummah, in spite of India’s reaching out to the Citadel of Wahabi Islam, still stands behind Pakistan. The exercise, if not conducted with restraint might trigger a larger conflict in the region for which international community should closely monitor the developments.