Pakistan cannot go unpunished for the horrific attack its actors carried out in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday in which 17 soldiers were martyred and four terrorists were killed. As India weighs its options, there is also the thought on the mind of the officials and that is Pakistan is a nuclear state which advocates the first use policy.
Officials in India say that there is an urgent need to strike. The reason Pakistan continues to launch its actors on Indian soil is because they have come to believe that they will never be hit. Be it the 26/11 or Pathankot attacks, India has never had a military response to Pakistan despite the role of the country being so clear in both those incidents.
What are India's options?
India is capable of carrying out a strike in Pakistan and even succeeding in it. India's special forces are one of the best in the world. Most officers are in favour of a swift covert strike across the border. It may be recalled that a similar operation had been carried out in Myanmar after 18 soldiers had been killed at Manipur.
While there is no doubting India's capabilities, there is another issue that needs to be factored. No nuclear state has ever been hit in a covert of targeted op. India will need to not just consider Pakistan but also China which is a nuclear state. China has maintained that Pakistan is an all weather ally.
A hit on Pakistan would well lead to escalation of military operations. Further an atomic crisis too cannot be ruled out if covert operations are carried out in Pakistan.
If India needs to carry out such a strike, there has to be an extreme amount of precision backed by Intelligence and policy decision making. India is also positioning itself as a rising power and hence if anything does go wrong it could affect its position.
Pakistan, on the other hand, nurtures no such ambition and hence experts point out that India will have everything to lose if things do go wrong. However, Pakistan has nothing to lose, experts also point out.
In the aftermath of the 26/11 attack, India had decided to carry out a strike on terrorist camps across the border. However, the plan was dropped after both the Intelligence Bureau and the army informed the government that they cannot guarantee 100 per cent success.
India would need to ensure that the international community does build up pressure on Pakistan to tone down its narrative. It would require some serious discussions and mere statements from the International Community will not do.