Post Pulwama and the misadventure across the LOC the frustrations of the Indian nation have predictably peaked. Its attempt to unequivocally stamp its hegemony over Pakistan has backfired miserably. Their larger than life image of themselves that borders on the surreal and the mythical has clearly taken a severe beating.

India considers itself the natural regional center of power and the sole, rightful hegemon who must exercise undisputed control in the Indo-Pak subcontinent, South-Central Asia Region (SCAR), the Greater Middle East Region (GMER), the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and perhaps the Far East as well. It has pretensions to an influential and decisive role at the global level, too. However, Pulwama and its aftermath have brought forth obvious limits to its power. This realization must have come as a staggering blow to the misperceived abilities of its Armed Forces. The power potential of the Indian nation is by and large circumscribed by the yawning gap between its geostrategic and geopolitical aspirations, its regional and global ambitions and its real capacity to achieve all of them. It tries to make up for its inadequacies through misplaced arrogance, hubris, relentless self-projection, rabid media and diplomatic offensives, propaganda and relentless mis/disinformation campaigns. However, in practice, it is essentially Pakistan-centric and thus irretrievably pegged to the Indo-Pak subcontinent. Its forces remain fixed by their Pakistani counterparts to their common borders. It is thus unable to free itself from Pakistan to pursue its and its allies’ strategic interests elsewhere. Realpolitik and ground realities find nuclear Pakistan as the only regional country that actually stands up to it and refuses to be cowed down. India’s dichotomy lies in it being totally Pakistan-centric yet wanting to play roles at the regional and global levels. To India’s abiding resentment, Pakistan’s nuclear prowess has literally equalized all conventional military imbalances between them.

It is this sense of total frustration over not being able to get the better of Pakistan that defines India’s policies and attitude towards its western neighbour.

In an effort to assert themselves in the Indo-Pak subcontinent and other Asian regions the Indians have started fashioning themselves on the lines of the US and Israel who project power ruthlessly in pursuit of their respective and common national interests. However, in terms of capabilities, capacities, will and resolve the Indians fall far short of the two nations they want to emulate. This time, in the wake of their own false flag operation at Pulwama, the Indians clearly overextended themselves. The Indian PM has the blood of his own soldiers on his hands. To further compound matters they ventured across the LOC in AJ&K and carried out an air attack near Balakot, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This was in pursuit of the “new normal” that the Indians had “proclaimed” in the region. They carried out a “deep strike” in Pakistan territory to knock out an “ostensible terrorist training camp” of the Jaish e Mohammad. It was a total failure as there was no camp to hit and not a single actual casualty of the hundreds claimed. Israeli supplied SPICE guided bombs failed to hit targets too. Pakistan responded in kind and more. The self-professed aura and myth of Indian military superiority and invincibility was thus summarily shattered astride the LOC. The most glaring strategic connotation of these significant events was the blatant exposure of the limits of Indian power, both at the IHK and the regional levels.

India’s savage and ruthless assaults on the Kashmiri people have failed to control, manage or subdue them. The Indians have failed politically, diplomatically and militarily in the IHK. The limits of the Indian state are exposed exponentially as the dynamic Kashmir “intifada” gathers pace and criticality with every passing hour. The Kashmiri struggle for the Right to Self Determination is going down in the annals of history as a valiant, fearless (and in time successful) struggle. The Indian juggernaut in IHK has clearly been brought to a screeching halt by the stone pelting Kashmiri youth. The Indians appear to have reached the limits of their military prowess and ingenuities in IHK.

At the regional level the limits of India’s powers have been summarily laid bare by Pakistan and its formidable Armed Forces. Not only did the PAF force the IAF fighters to flee in anguish when they intruded Pakistani airspace over Balakot but within hours they had ventured into India controlled airspace in IHK, bombed open spaces and then shot down two fighter aircraft to boot! Wing Commander Abhinandan was captured while the other pilot perished with his aircraft in IHK. Air superiority had been established by the redoubtable PAF in no uncertain terms. Dis-spirited with the IAF, the Indian Government moved up the escalation ladder to pose a missile threat which Pakistan stared down too. PM IK returned the downed pilot unilaterally and then neutralized PM Modi’s military responses by offering talks; without prejudice to his prerogative of more-than-compatible responses, if attacked.

Overall, Pakistan had much more than the better of the Indians in the military, political, diplomatic and information domains. In a series of smart moves PM IK totally outmanoeuvred PM Modi through adroit statecraft and astute statesmanship, sublime diplomacy and courageous leadership. Most importantly, Pakistan had once again crossed the Rubicon, stood up to India’s bullying and had stared it down!

The limits of Indian power in the sub-continent were thus laid down by Pakistan. Its geostrategic and geopolitical implications in the region and beyond will be colossal. The Indians will live to rue this gross miscalculation by their Hindutva inspired PM.

The crisis persists. PM Modi will not negotiate from the position of weakness he has currently been forced into by PM IK’s mature, measured, assured leadership. He will want to manoeuvre into a position of strength before defusing the situation, finally. Pakistan must brace itself for more military operations by the chastened Indians before their elections.

PM Modi needs a reality check. Pakistan is a formidable conventional and nuclear power. It will not brook any nonsensical ingress into its territories. India must recognize and accept the limits to its actual and perceived powers!