Avoid escalation - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Wednesday 27 February 2019

Avoid escalation

An IAF helicopter crashed in Kashmir on Wednesday, killing six servicemen and a civilian

By Ajai Shukla
Editorial Comment in Business Standard
28th Feb 19

The downing of an Indian Air Force (IAF) MiG-21 fighter on Wednesday (Pakistan has claimed it has shot down two) and the capture and vulgar parading on Pakistani television of an Indian pilot illustrates how quickly things turn for the worse once countries enter a spiral of violence. In a clear escalation of hostilities, Indian fighter jets also shot down a Pakistani aircraft. Later in the day, India issued a demarche to Pakistan on its “unprovoked act of aggression” and there were reports that mortar fire had been exchanged between Indian and Pakistani troops across the Line of Control. On Tuesday, India had achieved a tactical coup in successfully striking a Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan. It became clear a day later that the challenge for India and Pakistan now is to contain the latest escalation before things get completely out of control. If India decides to respond with more violence and Pakistan continues striking back, there could be many shifts of fortune, since escalation is a game of uncertain outcomes.

Pakistan has signalled that it wants immediate de-escalation. As the smaller and weaker country, it was under pressure to respond and, having done so, clearly believes it has saved face and wants to take this no further. India has demonstrated its anger at the killing of 40 security men near Pulwama and has demonstrated its ability, wherewithal and will to retaliate and impose costs on Pakistan. But de-escalation requires both sides to withdraw with prestige intact and that situation prevails at this moment. India would do well to wind down tensions. If either side decides it must impose itself further on the other, there is no telling where that leads.

New Delhi would reach that same conclusion through thinking strategically and logically about the consequences of uncontrolled escalation – and beyond a point, all escalation is uncontrollable – and a drift towards war. As the more powerful, wealthier country that enjoys growing international prestige, it has far more to lose than Pakistan, which would try to paint even a messy stalemate as a victory against India. The time has come to think strategically, eschewing jingoistic fervour and avoiding taking decisions through the prism of electoral benefits and compulsions. It is advisable to pull back from taking the spiral of violence any further.

India must harness the tide of international support that has turned in its favour after the attack on a terror camp in a non-civilian isolated area, a non-military target. That’s the reason why few countries have rushed to Islamabad’s defence so far. In this climate, India’s restraint is likely to be lauded. The high moral ground and international pressure will also play in India’s favour for a quick return of the captured pilot. The Pulwama attack and its aftermath have, going by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement on Wednesday, jolted Pakistani decision-makers and leaders. It must be looked at as an opportunity to tone down the rhetoric in a lead-up to resuming dialogue, both with Pakistan and within Kashmir.  In that context, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement in China that her country would “act with responsibility and restraint” is a relief.


  1. Ajai ji, we have sat on it for a long long time.
    No we do not sit ideal, we go to war. And i'm not being an idiot, im not sitting in an armchair and watching from a distance. Im sitting right on a spot where bombs fall first. My relatives died for rezang la and we are a community of warriors older than any in India. I am ready to take the risk of being dead with family. But i am not afraid, i just want this radical country of pakistan to be over. we would have great strides and peace and development in the region once its gone. no more postponing, more we postpone, more we stand to loose everything one day.


  3. I think overall posture of Govt . is for de escalation . we achieved our objective . Let Pakis live in fools paradise. time to to keep pressure on Pakistan till it mends it ways if it doesnt it will break one day.

    1. What did you achieve 🤔
      But you forgot to pick up the wood after hitting our trees.any ways I guess we did burn fire in your hearts ...didnt we 😃
      Remember Abhi your hero..but can you tell me what makes your zero a hero ☺

  4. Sir,
    I submit that wars are prosecuted in furtherance, and achievement, of national goals. Heart-wrenching as the sight may be - of a wounded, blindfolded pilot as a PoW,- a la John McCain at the hands of Viet Cong - bringing 'Abhi' back cannot be seen as the end-game in this round of Indo-Pak hostilities.
    After all, the 6 souls who perished in yesterday's Mi-17 crash do not have the same option of return.
    If returning our own was the goal, then Cdr Jadhav, sentenced to death and in Pak custody, undergoing torture and worse, for years, was just as valid a reason to go to war.
    So, IF - a big IF - India thinks it can rectify Pak's decades-old death-by-a-1000 cuts strategy by imposing costs (men, money), then it simply cannot 'cut short' the goal just because one of our own is being paraded vicariously on Pak media.
    This is not stock market, where a day's euphoria (strikes) cancels the next days realism (capture).
    Lastly, we are a nation that worries about the turning radius, and 0-60 speed of a BMW or Audi, and less about the fact that the 1950s vintage design MiG 21s, need over 200-220 km/hr minimum speed, and so end up going over the border, in a larger arc, just because we never got the nimbler fighter aircraft to go in pursuit of a 1980s F16 cluster attack.
    And for that we have us to blame.

  5. Mr Shukla,

    If you truly believe "The Pulwama attack and its aftermath have, going by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement on Wednesday, jolted Pakistani decision-makers and leaders" then your reading of Gen Bajwa, his stooge Imran Khan and the Terroristan aka Pakistan deep state is even more pathetic than what I believed it to be. Also, Mr M K Gandhi would have rightfully been very proud of you; when you are violated in one anal aperture, create a second one for your enemy.

    There has not been one, not one single occasion where India has thought of, planned for, articulated about and implemented even the slightest malice towards Terroristan. Every single act of violence after independence has been only and only Terroristan's doing.

    The befuddled Indian polity has been given numerous golden opportunities to put down this rabid dog of an apology of a nation that is Terroristan but being classical Indian neutered politicos, they have purposefully foregone each one of them in the name of your lofty moral high ground of restraint.Except when their own skin was threatened in the so-called Parliament attack, for which they spend a couple of thousand crores in launching Parakram. On another angle, Ajmal kasab should have led that otherwise completely unprofessional team. Then we would have been rid of some real scumbags...

    Now that there is some retaliation(in the Indian context, forget initiative or concentration of force or even the most primary selection and maintenance of aim...) which, by itself is too little and too late, you, like all your fellow Leftist pacifists of the JNU strain, advocate restraint? In Kargil, this vermin of Terroristan butchered Ahuja in cold blood while we gave a proper funeral to their KIA. In '71, we released 93000 of their PsOW while scores of ours died or are still languishing in their prisons. And here we have you advocating restraint. So that we feel satisfied that the great wide world, in public, will jack us off with their praise and adulation for being a responsible power while in private, they will fall off of their chairs laughing at our yet again amply demonstrated lack of will, gullibility,supineness, cowardice and craven desperation for international empathy. And the ones laughing the most will be the Chinks.

    People like you are the bane of this once proud land and have absolutely no right to be in it in any capacity whatsoever. Please go to your rightful place that is Terroristan and live, work and die for that hellhole. I am sure that when you fall over yourself to willfully give them all details of our Combat Comds and such other titbits, you will be richly rewarded with 72 virgins.

    Despite being a military veteran, you are a disgrace to the uniform and a shame for India. Get out and stay out. It is time to clean out the pigsty...

  6. Choke karachi harbour

    Use your naval armada NOW

    POSITION your aircraft carrier 400kms outside karachi...lets see how long Pakistan airforce f 16s can play the cat n mouse game.

    Surrender all crooks or perish ur economy ..

  7. I feel the country has been let down by our incompetent armed forces. Consider the facts

    1. PAF jets approached the Indian border undetected and IAF jets were scrambled only when they were near the border. That means there was no radar detection capability implemented by IAF and there were no proactive air patrolling done by IAF.

    2. Air defence: where are the billions of dollars of SAM’s including Akash, Russians systems and Israeli systems not to mention old fashioned anti aircraft guns ? Makes me wonder if IAF should be investigated for scams as they might have accepted kick backs and never received the equipment? No mention anywhere of AA weapons used by India?

    3. Why Mig 21? IAF has 330 SU-30 MKI, Mirage 2000 and MIG 29. At the front in a high alert scenario why send a 50 year old aircraft to defend your border ? Same scenario would translate to wearing a banyan and lungi to wedding reception??

    4. Poor pilot skills: long story short is that the pilot got shot down. Good pilots shoot others bad pilots get shot down. That is the summary. While there is a thought that PAF pilots immediately went back to Pakistani territory , a trained pilot would not get overcome by emotions when in combat and blindly follow the adversary.

    5. URI happened as our soldiers were caught sleeping early morning by terrorists. Pulwama happened because a kid with RDX could ram a Jeep into an army convoy. If you look at them hard enough, you can either blame Pakistan for supplying the terrorists or our soldiers for not measuring up.

    Makes me come to the conclusion that our armed forces are just as incompetent as our government bureaucracy who are well known for being incompetent and corrupt. The nations security is under deep compromise make no mistake. Our armed forces are no more competent than Arab military’s although we would not want to believe it.

  8. If the objective is to stop terror, that is never going to happen Pakistan will stop supporting terrorism only if it’s militarily defeated (not possible) - or through negotiation.
    The first surgical strike in 2016 was accompanied by hype triumphalism and propaganda staged by Modi even as it clearly failed in its objective.
    After a few years Modi now believing his own first lie, thought he would again play to the gallery with the 2nd surgical strike.
    Coming to believe in ones own delusions has led to the confused thinking and this misadventure by Modi.
    It was always clear a retaliatory attack was to be expected, as happened so swiftly with the loss of a MIG.
    The ball once again is in the Indian court and we are back to where we started

  9. Hello Ajay
    1] It shouldn't go beyond a certain point. - True

    2] Have we achieved anything yet ? - No ( because pakistan will erect Training camps again)

    3] Have we got Masood, Hafeez, Dauood ? - No ( Then why to stop now ? Our goal is clear,
    Pakistan shouldn't do support Terror)

    4] By trying to achieve above point Are we going to a WAR ( Are we not in a WAR ALREADY
    through Terrorism since 40 yrs(Panjab + Kashmir) ??, I think your service started &
    Ended but Terrorism was there !! ).
    5] The whole world is with India like never before So this is the right time to teach
    Pakistan Army & Terrorist that Pak Gov. police of Terrorism is not going to work.
    6] Pak is giving threat to world of Nukes , For the Terrorists.

    ## If we stop now acting on Terror it will be India's defeat.

    ## So, Please Stop saying that present government is seeing this though Election prism. It is Congress & others who are in Terror that BJP will finish the Pakistan Problem if he comes to power. Congress & others ran Appeasement policy of Pakistan & supporters since 70 yrs (Umar Abdulla & His Father .. (remember Artical 370), Hurriat.

  10. Hi,the fact is the Indian Govt has still not shown proof of the Air Strike killing close to 300 Jehadi's (please see Al Jazeera article on the same) neither has it shown proof of downing an F-16 fighter.(Dog Fight happened in broad daylight ?)

    On the other hand Pakistan has captured one of our pilots,shot down a plane and an IAF helicopter which has mysteriously crashed killing 6 IAF personnel around the same time as the dog fight took place.

    The govt needs to show proof if we want to de-escalate and walk away with an iota of prestige.

  11. When we cannot strike harder and more than them. Why spend so much on military. Cut it by half. Make it a defensive force. Why be laughing stock of the world. Should have kicked harder the first time. Any response from them would have looked small. Then call for peace . Now they kicked as much as u did with 1/5th of your budget.

  12. Sorry Col. The IAF hasn't managed to shoot down anything. Indian claim is based on their ground troops seeing an aircraft go down on Pakistani side - that was very likely the IAF's MiG-21.

  13. India should not escalate , but keep up tempo of cross border raids/artillerys .
    This till
    1. Pakistan returns Jadav
    2. The two terrorists and Dawood are handed over to India.
    3. Announce they stop diplomatic and political and any other support to Kashmir .

  14. India spends $50b on defense.
    Pak spends $10b

    We have a border event at least once a year. How is it that small - mediumm sized skirmishes repeatedly can even end in a stalemate with lop sided spending?

  15. We have all had a narrow escape with sheer good luck.....both countries and the world may have avoided a nuclear war.
    If the PAF jet armada on a bombing run on Kashmir airfields had not turned back being blocked by our 8 IAF jets.
    If our pilot had not been taken captive thus enabling Pakistan to save face,
    If the planned Indian missile attack on Pakistan of the night of the 27th taken place,
    if we did not have Imran Khan as the Pakistani PM,
    ... then the situation would have escalated.
    What have we learned by all this? What has changed?
    We should have learned that if there is another terror attack on India &
    If Indian jets bomb Pakistan again in a similar act of aggression.
    Then Pakistan will retaliate and bomb Indian military targets.
    Things may turn out diffrently
    AND Both countries might not be so lucky next time.
    Talk of new red lines being established by the media chattering class is bullshit

  16. Tashkent 1965
    Shimla 1971

    Pakistan once again wins in the slog overs.

    Victory from the jaws of defeat....sharjah style

    Kapil dev xi vs imran khan xi

  17. Pakistan has 50 f16

    And they sent 20 on a kamikaze strike....on day 1 of war...

    24hrs later ....aman ki aasha

  18. India beat coward Pakistan, they now begging we must attack and punish, Modi must order the army to advance, Pakistani very dar pok, we must strike then pms with fear in their herts, we must not miss chance, must finish Pakistan forever like we did Bangladesh where Pakistan surrendered, our braves are ready, just give shout, hit them now, hit them hard, Modi do not listen to international give order to hit the Pakistani to punish these Muslims.

  19. Why must we avoid escalating the situation, we must finish Pakistan

  20. India wants to fixate on Pakistan and JeM, and the media plays along by echoing its narrative, all of which is meant to obfuscate the fact Indian Occupation Forces have killed nearly 100,000 in Kashmir since 1989.

  21. It has emerged that the Zionist war machine is also at the heart of the rising tensions between India and Pakistan. Spice 2000 smart missiles were sold to New Delhi by Israel as part of one of the largest weapons deal in the Zionist state’s history.

  22. Dear Indians, our announcement to release your captured pilot proves that we want peace and we are a peace-loving nation, this is not our weakness but our generosity. Say No To War and welcome the peace gesture

  23. Nobody wants war... We can safely say both countries were able to save face for now..however Pakistan needs to understand india will only take extreme step if pushed on terror... Rest thanks to your govt for releasing our pilot... Credit should be given to Imran Khan

  24. Pakistani nukes are being flown out from
    Balochistan.Three Saudi Boeing 777s spotted transporting them to Riyadh on flight radar.

  25. Congratulations Broadsword....

    You started having more Pakistani commentators on your "friendly" blog than Indians.

    Peace is the ultimate end state / aim of the war and if we are able to achieve that without war, that would be very "Hindu like" who chant "Om, Shantih, Shantih, Shantih" after every prayer or invocation rather than invoking some Lord or Allah. But wait - the great massage of Mahabharat or Geeta is that one must establish Peace / Dharma (the righteous order) even at the cost of a (nuclear) war.

    Having said the above, the very cause for existence of a separate country carved out of once a singular entity based on religion, hatred, a sense of denial of rulership, and for a futuristic visions of reestablishment of that rulership through thousand cuts or delusion of "Gazba-e-Hind" is the biggest "adharma" the subcontinent is suffering from. The very acceptance and perpetuation of such a state of affairs is biggest sin the "Seculars, Liberals and Left" have managed to inflict on Indians. A division of the subcontinent / country to carve out separate countries like for Kauravas and Pandavas has widened the chasm rather than offering a solution as envisaged. It happened so during Mahabharata too. Even a great diplomate Krishna could not find a solution to that conflict giving rise to violence and disorder (Adharma) and he had to resort to "War" ! Our ancestors were no fools to find ultimate solutions in Ramayana and Mahabharata and other scriptures through or in "Wars". Threat to existence continues to remain the ultimate threat and that threat is so alive in Indian subcontinent.

    Why are we avoiding the unavoidable. During Mahabharat Kauravas had more Brmhastra (Nucs) (Bhisma Karna and Ashwasthama) than Pandavas (only Arjuna had those) and Kauravas used it against the Pandavs (Ashwastham used it). The Bramhastras (that is Nucs) did not achieve any final deterrence. So Pakistan or India being under delusion of peace under nuclear umbrellas is a big delusion. It has in fact accentuated the instability. It has emboldened Pakistan to become irresponsible and more violent. Hence we must use all those means where there is no parity between India and Pakistan. Armed forces is one of those.

    India needs to overcome that imposed fear and call out Pakistan loud and clear. Some Draupadies may loose their offspring but it would give India a new beginning of great lineage of Bharats. That new generation of Bharat lineage is what the Liberals, Seculars and Leftist are so mortally afraid of. So much so that they do not mind seeking refuge with everything "Pakistani".


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