It looks like Modi himself has finally revealed that the Balakot airstrike was just a facade or jumla, a word that has stuck to his persona like a leech. Military training is not enough to fight wars, knowledge of military strategies is equally important. Only skilled veterans will have the ability to simulate an entire war scenario in the war room and create the most effective winning strategy.
While one of the objectives in a war strategy would be to minimise casualties, it depends entirely on the overarching objective of the war. The same applies to battles and targeted military offensives. All major countries are developing or have developed advanced skills in short term engagements because no country can afford a full-scale war in the digital age with such advanced technology and weapons.
In 1971, India displayed its finest foreign policy and military strategy. When the East Pakistan crisis was at its worst and India was getting inundated with refugees, Indira Gandhi travelled to all major countries to ask for their help to intervene and solve the problems in East Pakistan. It was the time when the ‘Cold War’ was at its peak and Pakistan was a strategic ally of NATO. India was part of NAM and was perceived as closer to the Soviet Union. Although most countries were sympathetic to India’s concerns, no one extended help. After Indira Gandhi returned to India, she spoke to the military establishment about liberating East Pakistan.
But there was also the possibility of the war escalating on to the western front. That was the limit of Mrs Gandhi’s involvement. The blueprint of the strategy of the 1971 war was created entirely by the military establishment. Compare that with the present day surgical strike at Uri in 2016. PM Modi has admitted to playing an active role in strategising and executing the operations. What would a political leader without any formal training in military schools or military exercises know about military strategies?
It is this lack of knowledge that he has accidentally revealed in an interview in his preposterous zeal to project himself as a strong leader.
The fact that the air force heeded to him and decided to send in the jets to destroy the camps in cloudy weather and rain is incomprehensible. Contrary to Modi’s illogical perception, radars do work in cloudy conditions and in the rain. It is the jets ability to conduct precision targeting that gets affected. The fact that Modi wanted the jets to be undetected by the Pakistani radars underlines something very important. Modi was seemingly scared of a measured military retaliation from Pakistan even though the operation was not against the Pakistan state itself and was targeted at the terrorist camps. These factors ensured that the strikes supposedly managed to raze only a few trees to the ground and missed the camps entirely. No wonder someone from Pakistan had jeeringly remarked on Twitter that if the trees had the ability to respond the jets would not have returned to India.
But a larger question looms before Modi. When there were clouds and rain, why the hurry? Why did Modi override IAF’s decision to postpone the strike? What was so important about those camps that warranted an immediate aerial strike against them on that night itself? Every military operation and especially the covert ones would have extremely specific and pinpointed objectives. Had the top leadership of JeM visited the camp at that time? Was there any important meeting or planning taking place for a terrorist attack in India? No such reason has been given by either the government or the IAF. What would simply bombing a few camps have achieved? JeM would have built more camps and used the premise to brainwash and recruit more people to create terrorists out of them.
It has become evident that the military offensive was born out of BJP’s political strategy especially after Modi started asking for votes in the name of the airstrike. The objective was to divert people’s attention towards national security from the government’s abject failure in governance in the last five years. Balakote gives us insights into the working of Modi’s mind. He is always looking to be in the limelight which can be observed from his obsession to be shown prominently in photos, videos and on TV channels. The same obsession clouds his judgement when it comes to decision making. He thinks one-dimensionally, rejects opinions and despises detractors. Once he makes up his mind about something, he wants everyone concerned to fall in line with his decision. When his decision goes wrong, the onus of defending him falls on the people around him while he moves on quickly to find something new to get back into the limelight. When he finds nothing of substance, he quickly goes on a foreign visit. This is how his five years as PM have unravelled, from demonetization to GST implementation to Rafale to Pulwama and finally Balakote.
But there is a bigger question that the country should be concerned with. When retired veterans are raucously arguing in support and against the Modi government on news channel debates, it is making me wonder how far the country’s military establishment has been politicised and more worryingly how deep has it been infected by the Hindutva ideology. Otherwise, why isn’t the establishment telling Modi sternly to not politicise military operations? The establishment has been degraded to the point where BJP leaders are calling it Modi’s army and Modi is openly claiming that military operations are his own brainchild.
The IAF has to explain why it chose to sacrifice its own credibility for Modi’s lust to hold on to the PM’s chair at any cost.