US analyst lauds India's military restraint, but cautions against 'position of weakness'

ManmohanPakistan PM Nawaz Sharif with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. (PTI)

Endorsing the policy of "military self-restrain" of successive Indian governments in the face of provocation from Pakistan, a top American analyst has said that henceforth India must ensure that it does not act from a "position of weakness".

"The use of military force to counter terrorism is an especially tempting solution because it can be enacted very quickly. But it also can quickly escalate to overreaction," George Perkovich said on Tuesday.

"This is another reason why the Indian tradition of strategic nonviolence, however imperfect, is less risky and more conducive to long-term success than a militaristic strategy to counter terrorism in a nuclearised environment," Perkovich said.

Delivering the 'Robert McNamara Lecture on War and Peace', Perkovich who is vice-president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and director of its non-proliferation programme, credited successive Indian governments led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh for not reacting militarily to terrorist attacks inside India emanating from Pakistan.

"To their credit, some Indian leaders, including Prime Ministers Vajpayee and Singh, have understood the relative wisdom of military self-restraint in the face of terror attacks. They have understood that violence, in the words of Hannah Arendt, 'like all action, changes the world, but the most probable change is a more violent world'", he said.

"For a strategy of muscular self-restraint to achieve its full power, India (or any other state) must not be acting from a position of weakness. One must have the real option to act forcefully and effectively, and then withhold that option out of superior self-restraint and moral-strategic wisdom that will be recognised by the opponent and the international community," he said.

"Thus India would still need to reform its management of national defence and acquire intelligence, reconnaissance, and strike capabilities that could be used against Pakistan."

"It would still need to maintain a combination of army, navy and air force capabilities that would prevail in a major conventional war if Pakistan initiated it. India also would need a reliable, survivable nuclear force to deter unbounded escalation," Perkovich said.

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