Founder Chairman, Guardian Pharmacy | Entrepreneur | Startups Mentor | Author: The Corner Office | The Buck Stops Here - Learnings of a Startup Entrepreneur | Reinvent Reboot Rewire. Managing Retirement in 21st Century | An Eye for an Eye
Thursday, 22 September 2016
Uri Attack – Repercussions and Beyond
It has been 5 days since
the URI attack shook the nation.
Millions of pages have
been written about this and thousands of hours of air time have kept a nation
glued to their TV sets taking in and interpreting the hundreds of expert
opinions in the print, electronic and visual media. It was wonderful to see a
unanimous condemnation of the dastardly attack in the first few days and then,
as expected, the questions and the sarcasm started to surface from a selected
and predictable group of people.
Videos of Prime Minister
Modi’s interview, while he was CM Gujarat, started being circulated where he
had stated his position on Pakistan that they have to be responded to in their
own terms and not with “love letters” or “biryani”. Comments about “achhe
din” and how their lack thereof were heard. “Where is the 56 inch seena”
asked someone. A tweet sent by Mr Modi before the elections addressing PM
Manmohan Singh suddenly started getting retweeted. These were statements /
tweets of Mr Modi when he was CM Gujarat and when he was running BJP’s election
The scenario has changed
dramatically once he was elected the Prime Minister. Mr Modi cannot afford to
implement what he said earlier though I am sure he remembers all his comments. Taking
action on his then comments would be akin to committing hara-kiri. Now strong decisions
need to be taken and these have to be weighed against all the possible
bilateral and international repercussions.
The hawks on TV want an
immediate military response. Inexperienced politicians are speaking about
retaliating with “an entire jaw for a tooth”. A purported article by an online
site talking about Indian Special Forces crossing the Line of Control and
killing 20 terrorists went viral, was received by me from a patriotic Indian in
USA – this was later denied. A heartwarming video recording of a group of
soldiers stating “Kashmir to hoga lekin Pakistan nahin hoga” has gone
viral over social media (I tweeted it as well) and has been seen literally by
hundreds of thousands of people.
Everyone in the country
wants a visible response. So do I.
But as always happens
after a national tragedy which results in an uproar, temperatures have started
to come down and passion is giving way to reason in most cases and cynicism and
criticism in some.
With India’s significantly
superior defence capabilities, I am certain India can do serious damage to
Pakistan’s military. Though Pakistan loves to talk about its nuclear deterrent,
they cannot possibly use this, no matter what the provocation maybe because
they recognize that India too is equally if not better equipped. Killing of
tens, maybe hundreds of terrorists will not solve the problem but will
exacerbate it further. Over the past few decades, the minds of thousands of young
people in Pakistan have been moulded to believe in their version of jihad.
They have been brainwashed into believing that they are doing God’s work when
they attack India and the infidels.
So is an all-out attack on
Pakistan really a solution? Can the potential killing of hundreds of Pakistanis
be a revenge for the loss of our 18 soldiers? There will be a retaliation from
the other side and more Indian soldiers will also die. In addition, who knows
how many civilian deaths will be on the Indian side. No one likes body bags and
if this were to happen, the tide would very quickly turn against the very same
Government which is currently being goaded into taking decisive and quick
We have seen that the
killing of Osama bin Laden did not destroy Al Qaeda. The Taliban, without
Mullah Omar continue to do damage in Afghanistan. The emergence and
strengthening of ISIS over the past few years despite innumerable surgical
strikes only goes to prove that the World cannot wipe out terrorism using force
– as someone said, you kill one person, ten more stand up to replace him.
The Pakistan Army, the fidayeens
and the Pakistani religious leaders would want India to attack them militarily.
This will give their ridiculous adventures like Uri, sanctity and also give
them the excuse to go with their begging bowl to their wealthy friends for more
India as a nation has
moved far ahead of Pakistan. Economically, we are at least 10 times the size of
our depleted neighbor. In terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), India is
ranked no 3 while Pakistan is at 43. The World sees us as a powerful partner
while most nations are cringing away from Pakistan. We have built our stature
in the World after decades of diplomacy and successful business partnerships.
We must also accept that
Uri happened because of a failure of our intelligence. As we do our own
introspection, we have to ensure that such lapses do not happen again. We need
to get our own house in order as well. Our defence services have been short
changed for a long time and it is only in the last few years that favourable
decisions have started to be taken. We need the best surveillance systems and
drone technology to protect our borders. No cost is high enough to put the
lives of our soldiers in the balance.
War will have serious
consequences on our country. The stock markets will fall. During the Kargil
War, the stock market dropped by over 10%. Can we afford to have a similar drop
and see a huge valuation wiped off? Investment inflows which have started
seeing record levels will slow down dramatically and will take a while to
re-start. We also do not want war to create even more pockets of resistance in
Kashmir, which the separatists in Kashmir will push for.
Significant steps have
been taken to diplomatically isolate Pakistan and get the World to see it as
the primary sanctuary for terrorists, which it is. Pakistan is already standing
alone in the comity of nations and this loneliness will only intensify as the
cold winter months approach.
The comment by the young
Indian Foreign Service officer at the United Nations calling the ancient centre
of learning Taksh-shila, the new “Ivy League of Terror” will haunt and hurt
Pakistanis for many years.
The Pakistan Prime
Minister will remember his rebuff at the United Nations, from the US Government
and even from China, who has stated that they would prefer to take a neutral
position. Amongst the few sane voices in Pakistan, the Pakistani press exhibits
its nervousness in all their television discussions while the few retired
generals keep rattling their now blunted and rusted sabres and drop the “N”
word in every discussion.
India needs to hurt
Pakistan economically and politically while retaining our right to strike where
we want to at our will. There will be short term collateral damage for the
common citizens of both countries but this would be a very small price to pay.
1.Revoke the Most Favoured Nation status given to Pakistan
2.Stop exports to Pakistan, currently in the region of US$
1.5 billion per annum
3.Reduce exports from Pakistan by increasing tariffs
currently in the region of about US$ 2.0 billion per annum
4.Make securing Indian visas much more difficult for
5.Stop flight of Pakistan International Airlines over India
6.Open discussions of the Indus Water sharing accord.
The wise Chanakya had
stated in his famous work ArthShastra “The enemy of my enemy is my
friend”. This is the time for us understand implement this teaching in the
context of Pakistan. Look at Pakistan’s neighbours.
1.The Balochistan strategy has struck all the
right chords in with the rebels in Balochistan and Pakistan is struggling to
accept the weakness in their soft underbelly. One comment from the PM has set
the proverbial fire in Pakistan’s backyard. We have so many of our disbelievers
telling us that Balochistan is not Bangladesh – we love to draw parallels and
later play the “I told you so game”. The early moves in Balochistan is only the
beginning of the challenges Pakistan will see in its own backyard.
could be next. We must create so much dissonance within Pakistan that they have
time for little else.
is clearly on India’s side. Sustained political pressure from their Western
neighbor will continue to hurt Pakistan.
who Pakistan claims as an “all weather friend” is led by a group of pragmatic
politicians who are struggling to handle their own economic slowdown.
Politically, China needs Pakistan for what it wrongly believes as a counter to
India. However, China, with its slowing economy recognizes the huge market
India has to offer to its companies.
while paying lip service to Pakistan, do not see any economic possibilities
with Pakistan. This is clear from the incredible reception PM Modi received during
his visit to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
6.The SAARC nations particularly the larger
nations like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will not see any reason to stand with
7.The United States, Russia and
other major nations are already on India’s side and the United Nations has
refused to include Nawaz Sharif’s plea to intervene in the discussions between
India and Pakistan.
The PM has already stated
categorically that the perpetrators will pay. He is a strong leader who has the
best interests of the country. He must be hurting as much as if not more than
all his fellow citizens over the Uri attack.
Much as I to would like to
see a “strong and credible” response for the lives of our soldiers, Mr Modi
must not give in to all our jingoistic demands. He needs to calibrate the
response and take steps that he knows are in the best interest of the country.
There is really no single
answer or solution to the mess Pakistan is in. The Aam Aadmi in Pakistan
is definitely tired of all this and wants to lead a peaceful life if only their
leaders would let them.
Sharif and Sharif need to
sit down with their political and military advisors, religious leaders and
terrorist organisations and take stock of where they are as a nation and
whether they need to continue their “adventurism” or start to correct the
problems of their own making. From the time, if they do decide to change
course, it will take at least one whole generation to change their thinking and
to assimilate once again into the World.
The author is the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies
and the author of the best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing
Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye and The
Buck Stops Here - Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur.