Though the effect of India’s recent surgical strikes on Pakistan remains to be seen if they will impose greater degree of caution in terms of future terror attacks on out country, a full-fledged war between the two countries which will be difficult to both, may not be imminent, claims Srinath Raghavan, senior fellow at Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.
This former Indian Army officer, author and historian was in the city on Wednesday to deliver a special lecture at Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS). He speaks to J.V. Siva Prasanna Kumar on tackling crisis brewing across the Indo-Pak border, handling China and other issues. The excerpts….
Q Despite India’s surgical strikes on Pakistan, shelling continues unabated. Will the brewing crisis escalate into full-fledged war?
Answer: As to the effect of surgical strikes, it remains to be seen if they will impose greater degree of caution on Pakistan in terms of future terrorist attacks.
There is no stopping Pakistan…everyday there is shelling, civilians and soldiers are killed. The ceasefire there appears to be notional. Surgical strikes are a proactive posture taken by the government. Only time will tell if this will stop terrorism. Full-fledged wall will be difficult for both the countries as they have nuclear weapons.
Q What will be your prescription to end conflict with an aggressive Pakistan?
A: If you hit them like the way the surgical strikes are done – very limited kind of operation that may not lead to change in Pakistani behaviour. It’s a difficulty problem to solve. India should step up its diplomatic campaign to isolate Pakistan. Use of force alone cannot be a solution. China, facing separatist activity in its western territory, and has taken up an ambitious one belt, one road project through Pakistan, should be diplomatically coerced to take an open stance.
Q How do you think the Narendra Modi government is tackling the conflict with China?
A: Problems with China are of different kind - dissimilar to that of Pakistan. Both India and China complain of incursions. Nobody knows where the line is. We need to have other capabilities to deal with Chinese like having maritime-based military capabilities in Andaman and Nicobar islands. This is very crucial as bulk of China’s import of oil and other goods are shipped through this route, which gives access to the entry point of south China Sea and is also close to Indonesia. Perhaps, we can checkmate them in times of crisis.
Q Will the Government’s decision to declassify Netaji files help to throw more light?
A: These files are more of ‘sensational value.’ In my opinion the Government should declassify all official records once in 25 years.
Q What is your next project?
A: I am working on two books: US’ involvement in South Asia and another on history of India in 1970s.