Fencing out Pakistan: India’s High-Tech bet will Boost National Security

Quietly, without fanfare, India is taking concrete steps to squeeze Pakistan’s terror machine. The strategy is simple and should have been implemented years ago. The objective: to make the 2,900-km-long Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) with Pakistan impervious to terrorist infiltration.

India’s mortar-for-mortar policy on the LoC has silenced Pakistan’s guns. Since September 2015 there have been few incidents of cross-border firing by the Pakistan Rangers. In earlier years ceasefire violations were endemic. Villagers near the LoC lived in constant fear of Pakistani shelling. Several hundred lives – civilian and military – had been lost over the years to unprovoked Pakistani firing.

Terrorist infiltration, however, remains a serious problem. The Gurdaspur and Pathankot attacks exposed the vulnerability of India’s high security and civilian targets to terrorists pushed across the border by Pakistani army regulars with modern weaponry and provisions to last for days. The new steps to stop terrorist attacks like Pathankot are promising. They rely on technology and will collaterally help curtail cross-border narcotics smuggling into Punjab.

The plan envisages building a high-tech Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS). The system will have a multi-layered protective shield. It will cover India’s entire western land border from Gujarat to Jammu and Kashmir. CIBMS technology is similar to Israel’s security shield on its sensitive borders with several Arab countries. The high-tech equipment includes thermal imaging devices, 360 degree battlefield surveillance radar, night vision cameras, laser barriers and underground monitoring sensors. The CIBMS would be linked 24×7 to multiple control rooms at a distance of every five kilometers along the border. Simultaneously, the fencing at the border will be strengthened with over 2,00,000 floodlights installed on 50,000 poles.

There are 130 unfenced riverine sections along the 2,900-km border with Pakistan. Terrorists often use these lightly guarded sections to infiltrate into Indian territory and mount attacks. Under the CIBMS, these 130 riverine sections will be blocked with laser barriers. The CIBMS will also strengthen India’s hands in implementing a comprehensive political strategy to deal with Pakistan. There are four pivots to this strategy: diplomacy; economics; legal; and covert operations. Dealing successfully with an abnormal rogue state like Pakistan requires deploying a combination of all four.

Diplomacy: India must keep open the option of downgrading Pakistan’s high commission in New Delhi to consular status. This would involve asking high commissioner Abdul Basit to leave India if the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is not allowed, on the principle of reciprocity, access to areas in Pakistan from where the Pathankot terror attack was plotted.

Economics: Trade is a key weapon. Though direct India-Pakistan trade is minimal, India can withdraw most favored nation (MFN) status it granted to Islamabad in 1996.

Legal: Even tiny, landlocked Afghanistan declared its intention last week to take Pakistan to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for abetting terrorist activity on Afghan targets from Pakistani soil. India should show spine and intent to indict Pakistan internationally.

Covert Ops: India’s covert operational capability must be rebuilt. Mercenaries are available for hire. The Baloch seek independence from Pakistan’s brutal occupation. They will welcome – to use the phrase Pakistan employs to justify its sponsorship of terrorism in Kashmir – India’s “moral support”.

India’s Pakistan policy under the NDA government has been inconsistent. Red lines on the Hurriyat have been blurred. The Pakistani army has no intention of giving up its state policy of bleeding India by a thousand cuts. It has paused its terror machine out of tactical expediency since nearly half the army is caught in a quagmire fighting the Taliban insurgency.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s recent remark that India is “satisfied with Pakistan’s intent” over the Pathankot Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probe shows how muddled the government’s Pakistan policy remains. The JIT has absolutely no intention of apprehending the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) terrorists, including Masood Azhar, responsible for the Pathankot terror strike. India’s high-tech fence, scheduled to be completed within two years, is a step in the right direction. But it represents the start, not the end, of a sharply focused, outcome-based Pakistan policy. Source

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