Readers please close your eyes. For the sake of analysis let us assume that India is right and Pakistan wrong.

Let us also assume that strategic strikes against Pakistan were meticulously planned and executed with a very limited objective to target terrorists and cause no harm to Pakistani forces deployed in the area.

Let us assume that Indian ground forces did infiltrate a few kilometers into Pakistan to raid five launching pads. They killed everyone in these pads and exfiltrated safely.

Let us assume that Indians also had a fail-safe deception and covering plan. To cover Indian movements, small patrols, artillery and small arms fire was used to provide the distraction.

Let us accept the Indian narrative that Pakistan retaliated with un-aimed and blind fire with no specific targets.

Accept Indian claims that their assets in Pakistan had been alerted, satellites snooping over Pakistan were brought into lower orbit and focused on a 300 Kilometers of Line of Control. Indian helicopters were on standby and drones flown into Pakistan to video the entire operation. Or let us even assume their helicopters took an active part in operations with pathfinder teams marking helipads inside Pakistan.

Let us assume that all local communication channels of Pakistan army were jammed and line communication networks cut off by raiding parties.

Let us also assume and accept the Indian contention that by the time Pakistan’s ground forces scrambled, Indian commandoes were back with their souvenirs they cannot disclose. Recall the heads of Pakistani soldiers Indians carried back once they had intercepted a leave party that was unarmed.

For the sake of dissection, let us assume that by the time Indian DGMO informed his Pakistani counterpart, Pakistan had no clue of what had happened. Let us also assume that Pakistan’s denial means that it was surprised and is covering up.

However, all these assumptions are too textbook type and difficult to digest. In military, any plan that works to perfection must be relentlessly investigated. Here is a case of perfect planning and execution.

Analytically, Indian stated objectives of this latest flare up are explicit.

First send a message to Pakistan army and ISI that in future, every contemplated adventure against India will be pre-empted with bloody consequences. However, will this have any effect? The uproar has been created for wrong reasons. It has galvanised Pakistan. Much analogy is being made by the Indian media about the US raid in Kakul. A glance at declassified CIA documents will explain why and how it happened.

Secondly, display the prowess and technological edge of India to strike anywhere in Pakistan with military and technological precision. But is it possible? Pakistan has an effective early warning system from listening posts to electronic devices and satellite tracking. Indian claims of snooping satellites and drones are airy fairy.

Thirdly, demonstrate to the world that India has the political will to lethally and surgically strike into Pakistan below a nuclear threshold. This implies a fail-safe escalation control mechanism. Somehow, this entire mechanism failed.

However the inexplicit objectives are a source of concern.

First, India is exploiting this situation to distract attention from its high handedness, excessive use of force and use of shot guns to maim unarmed political agitations. With an aggressive Indian media this distraction is snowballing. The rhetoric has raised expectations of the Indian public forcing people to only think in black and white. Even well-known politicians and social activists asking for proofs are being condemned as traitors. TimesNow with Arnab Goswami is acting as a revolutionary trial room and passing verdicts on guests who dare to disagree. Hindu-right parties in tandem threaten their own people and Pakistanis working in India. All voices of sanity are being muffled. This orchestrated frenzy is being played in the backdrop of upcoming state elections. Statements by Rahul Ghandi and Arvind Kejriwal have exposed the cracks, not for any love for Pakistan but for the fact that BJP is using the blood of its soldiers for political mileage. This media hype helps India address its domestic and international media.

Secondly, India aims to convince the world that it is playing a lead role in elimination of terrorism in the world including Afghanistan. It is doing for the world what USA has not achieved despite engagement of Pakistan since 9/11. Knowing that Pakistan’s counter terrorism operations are at a conclusive stage where more civilian and less military efforts matter, BJP government is desperately trying to preempt success in its favour. This means that once Pakistan’s law enforcement reign in sectarian outfits like Jaish e Muhammad, India will be able to claim that it was under their pressure. But the world should not forget that the people and armed forces of Pakistan have paid a very heavy price in life to make counter terrorism operations a success and that Pakistan’s intentions in eliminating terrorism are credible. Pakistan’s security establishment is opening one front at a time to steer clear of any instability. This policy is good for Pakistan and the world.

Thirdly, India harps on the supposition of ‘multiple centers of power’ dominated by Pakistan army. This supposition fits well into the narrative of Pakistan’s pseudo liberals who spare no opportunity at bashing the army or economic apologists of India. To refresh memories, all landmark policy decisions of Pakistan were made by a political government and not the army.

Pakistan’s Kashmir policy of the 90s was made by Benazir Bhutto’s government and so were her decisions on nuclear and missile programmes. Going back in history, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was the architect of Pakistan’s China policy and Karakorum Highway. Pakistan’s advanced nuclear programme would never have been possible without the financial support the Bhuttos were able to source. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had taken the decision to make an Afghan resistance in 1973. Zia ul Haq’s government abandoned these leaders till they were picked up by CIA against the Soviets. Again it was Benazir’s government that recognized the Afghan Taliban. Her close aides interacted with Afghan Taliban even after 9/11 to a point that they were ready to hand over Osama to a neutral Muslim country. Even Asif Ali Zardari despite his notoriety created space without compromising the interests of Pakistan.  Now think why Benazir was eliminated and by whom and through whom?

It is not a question of ‘centers of power’ but rather of competence. Why is the PML-N government ceding so much space and leaking selective information to put curtains on the army. In contrast, how could PPP governments make landmark decisions? Certainly, it is not the army that prevents the Prime Minister from having a full time Foreign and Defence Minister.

Fourthly, realising the futility of Cold Start Doctrine, Modi’s strategic dilemma and doctrinal huddle has rebranded small sub-unit actions like fighting patrols to Surgical Strikes. Sang Parivar feels that small actions supported by vociferous propaganda and hype can have telling effects in isolating Pakistan.

Fifthly, Modi makes no bones about disintegrating Pakistan. India will continue supporting terrorism inside Pakistan and raising nonexistent issues. The pie he is trying to sell is to make Pakistan unstable to the point that international community decides to intervene to rid Pakistan of nuclear weapons. For this purpose, his propagandist and policy makers are coopting international concerns of Pakistan’s low yield nuclear weapons. His escalatory stratagem is very dangerous and fraught with uncertainties.

Lastly, Line of Control with an eyeball to eyeball situation is the most obvious and dangerous flash point. It is to Pakistan’s credit that such sub-unit level raids were foiled, Pakistan’s retaliation measured and escalation control measures effective. Had Pakistan retaliated with long range artillery, surface to surface guided missiles and drones, the escalation could have climbed many notches higher. It was Pakistan and not India that showed restraint. In contrast Modi’s jingoism was a very irresponsible event that had no escalation control measures. Initiative was ceded to Pakistan. Pakistan was gracious in limited response and remarkable calm.

Escalations do not serve the cause of sub-continent. Every time the two countries climb up a few rungs to mutual benefit, a flash brings everything to zero.  Both countries need to talk peace and not war.