Interview: Why Myanmar operation can't be replicated in Pakistan?

The Indian army carried out an operation along the Myanmar border in which it killed around 50 militants which have been targeting the North Eastern states.

While this is an operation that has been hailed and many feel the need to carry out such surgical strikes, the immediate question that comes to mind is if we could replicate the same in Pakistan?

Myanmar op can't be replicated in Pakistan

What one needs to bear in mind is that carrying out surgical strikes in Pakistan is a different ball game. Pakistan is an enemy nation and Myanmar is not.

Many may argue that that Pakistan is a nuclear state and hence such strikes cannot be carried out. Air Marshal (retd) BK Pandey tells OneIndia in this interview that the concern in Pakistan is not the nuclear weapons, but the fact that it is an enemy nation and carrying out surgical strikes could escalate the problem.

What are your thoughts on the Myanmar operation?

Militants hiding along the Myanmar border is not a new problem. We have seen this happening since the past 20 years and the Indian army has been involved in similar operations over there for long. Such an operation is called as Hot Pursuit.

Also read: Manipur ambush- How the Indian army is flushing out the militants

The Indian army has had to frequently respond to the North Eastern militants as they always tend to needle the Indian side.

Is the Myanmar government supporting these militants?

They do not support these militants. In fact it is the Chinese who support them. The Myanmar government has been a mute spectator to these developments as they are helpless against the Chinese. However over the years what we have seen is that the Myanmar government has not reacted to the hot pursuit being conducted by the Indian army.

Myanmar does not approve of militants taking shelter on their soil. However they are also helpless since these militants are backed by the Chinese. They feel it is best to stay quiet when India undertakes a hot pursuit.

Was the Indian army caught off guard when 18 of its soldiers were killed last week?

The Indian army has carried out a commendable job on the Myanmar border. However there are also lessons to be learnt. They were completely caught off guard by the militants.

Also read: Manipur ambush: A rare cross-border surgical strike by Special Forces

In fact they were caught off guard in an areas which is extremely probe to attacks by militants. There was intelligence failure and they had let their guard down. The hot pursuit that was conducted along the border of Myanmar is no doubt a rendition of honour, but there are several lessons that need to be learnt as well.

Can surgical strikes be replicated in Pakistan as well?

Strikes do take place along the Pakistan border as well. Although the surgical strikes do not take place, the Indian army resorts to artillery bombardment. We cannot send troops into Pakistan as the problem will escalate.

Moreover one needs to bear in mind that Pakistan is an enemy nation whereas Myanmar is not. Sending troops there will escalate the problem and blow into a full-fledged war. The manner of response is different when it comes to Pakistan.

Does the fact that Pakistan is a nuclear state make a difference?

According to me the nuclear state aspect is a little over blown. First and foremost Pakistan will not use its nuclear weapons as they would be the first to be affected by it as radiation does not remain limited.

Nuclear weapons are meant to prevent wars and not win them. Pakistan is well aware of the consequences of using a nuclear weapon. Moreover do you think they are going to target New Delhi? The diplomatic community of the entire world is in New Delhi and if they are targeted then you can well imagine what would happen to Pakistan.

It is the Western world which needs to worry more about nuclear weapons. If the Pakistan nuclear weapons go into the wrong hands, it is the West that will be targeted.

Does local politics play a part in carrying out strikes against Pakistan?

Take into account first the local politics in Kashmir. The problem in Kashmir seems to be escalating and hence feel that the tie up with the PDP was not the best of decisions made by the BJP.

It is very important in Kashmir to have a political will and if that is weak the security mechanism will always be drawn back. There are internal problems in Kashmir which need to taken care of first and only once India gains complete control of the issue can the same be resolved.

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