NEW DELHI: Warning Pakistan yet again that any misadventure by it will be thwarted with a punitive response, Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Saturday said the “surgical strikes” in September 2016 and the Balakot air strikes this February had amply demonstrated India’s resolve to act against cross-border terrorism.
The Army chief was much more sanguine about China, noting that the two armies had developed a good working relationship to sort out tensions arising due to “differing perceptions” about the unresolved Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Stressing there was no incursion by People’s Liberation Army soldiers at Demchok in eastern Ladakh last week, when China objected to some Tibetans and villagers celebrating the Dalai Lama’s birthday close to the LAC, Gen Rawat said the matter was resolved with a flag meeting between local commanders. “You need to dispel this myth that there has been any intrusion or activity by the Chinese that is detrimental to our security,” he said.
But Pakistan repeatedly resorts to state-sponsored terrorism, with the help of non-state actors, against India. “We are working in a coordinated manner for a cogent and synchronized national response against sub-conventional and asymmetric threats by any adversary,” said Gen Rawat, at a seminar on “20 Years after Kargil Conflict” here.
“The surgical strikes post Uri and in Balakot have amply demonstrated our political and military resolve against terror. No act of terror will go unpunished. The Indian armed forces stand resolute and ready to defend our territorial integrity. Let there be no doubt that misadventures will be repelled with a punitive response,” he added.
The Indian armed forces have come a long way since the Kargil conflict in 1999, where they were initially caught off-guard by Pakistan army troops who surreptitiously infiltrated to establish well-fortified positions. India lost 527 soldiers in dislodging the Pakistani intruders from the Kargil heights during Operation Vijay, which was successfully declared as over on July 26, 1999.
Conflicts in the future will be “more violent”, “unpredictable” and asymmetric in nature, with high-tech, space and cyberspace playing a greater role. “The military must be ready for a multi-spectrum war. The rise of non-state actors and the rapid changes in technology are changing the nature of warfare,” said Gen Rawat, adding that the recent setting up of tri-Service agencies to handle space and cyber as well as the Special Operations Division were indicative of the way the armed forces were transforming themselves.
General V P Malik (retd), who was the Army chief during the Kargil conflict, in turn, said India should not go back to its earlier defensive strategy. “We may need to do a Balakot time and again to send the message of deterrence. A defensive strategy changes the mindset of commanders on the ground. Be prepared to launch an offensive across the LoC at short notice,” he said.