In the mean time, let look into the attack and the options India has. Though the attack itself is limited in the damage and definitely lacks in scale and media attention compared to 26/11 attack in Mumbai, it has some similarity. Both have used 'fidayeen' style attacks using small arms and in both the cases, there were intelligent inputs on possible attacks that were ignored by the government, concerned. By this attack, Pakistan attempts to:
- Discredit Mr. Modi and his government in the international arena as "toothless paper tiger".
- Give Congress and Pro-Pakistan lobbies tooth to pressure government that talks are the only forward, while people are well aware that it had only cost their lives and livelihoods
- Prove their ability to still carry-out attacks in India from across border, to their dwindling supporters in India and possibly to enlist IS.
It is also highly likely that the attack is the result of the thaw in Indo-pak relations. Whenever, Indo-Pak relation sees a thaw, it had almost always followed by an attack in large or small scale. The best example is the Kargil war in 1999 which immediately followed, within months, after the Lahore summit and the historic bus journey of Mr. Vajpayee in February 1999. Similarly, the Agra Summit in July 2001 was followed by an attack on Indian Parliament in December 2011. Many such examples could be given. In all these cases, one similarity is that the attacks almost always followed within months after a thaw in relations. The current attack too, follows the same pattern. It has happened within months (actually within days...) after Ufa summit. So, one thing is for sure, unless and until Pakistan change it attitude or India grows its tooth, innocent Indians are going to lose their lives every time Indian politicians tries to become Gandhi or fall prey to the Pro-Pakistani (Pro-talk) lobby.
While the pattern of attack stands, what is a mystery to me is why? Is the Pakistani Government taking Indians to be fools or think that Indians cannot fight back as some late Pakistan' President thought, is anyone' guess. It is also likely that Pakistan is run by parallel governments, one that is publicly recognized to take the blame and lose power for the act of the other, which is shadows (at least in legal terms... read Pakistan military). While the first possibility still lacks solid evidence, the history of Pakistan Army over-throwing Pakistan Government one too-many times stands evidence for the second possibility. Even US had to toe Pakistan Army's line to get its work done in Afghanistan. In fact, US bought Pakistan's support for its actions in Afghanistan through its multi-billion dollar aids. And its inability to keep Pakistan Army in check, in spite of these largesse, to do its bidding could be attributed to its not so successful campaign in Afghanistan.
In any case, Mr. Modi is now in a fix. Unlike Myanmar, Pakistan Army is hostile to Indian interests. In fact, it is the perpetrator of the shadow war that is costing hundreds of Indian lives every year. If India tries to emulate its Myanmar actions, Pakistan has the capabilities to retaliate and will do for sure. Thanks to China. Extraction is much more difficult than intrusion, in this context. If Mr. Modi, decides to get tough with Pakistan he can only push Indian soldiers for a suicidal mission, which may not go well with Indian public and may not even succeed. India lacks the stealth technologies that are necessary for the successful penetration of Pakistani airspace, any way. Even if he tries to cover it up, it would crop-up for sure in future and elections would be a very bad time for such information to be leaked.
Thanks to I.K Gujjral's misplaced bonhomie India lacks covert action capabilities against Pakistan while the latter maintains and nurture its asymmetric advantage over India. In spite of the advise of many security and strategic analysts, the successive governments of India hesitates to reinstate the covert operation capabilities of Indian intelligence. For one, they don't want to be seen as anti-Gandhian. The other is the successful lobbying by Pakistan sponsored pro-talk groups in India and other nations. Hence, covert action is not a possibility.
The third option, that Mr. Modi could resort to is to make precision missile attacks. Indian missile systems seems to have that technology. For example, Brahmos and Shaurya missiles of India are capable of attacking Pakistani targets close to border with precision. Their speed makes interception difficult. However, this would invariably invite the wrath of Global community as Pakistan would claim that Indian attack had killed innocent lives. For such attack, intelligence should be accurate. If it was found later that India attacked and killed innocent civilians, it would be left with a red-face in the global arena and its non-aggressive peaceful history stand blemished. This option is the most viable, if Mr. Modi decides to walk the talk... However, India has to risk a war with Pakistan, as it is highly likely that Pakistan escalates the conflict to a full fledged nuclear war.
The fourth option, is the easiest and is the most often used by the successive governments. Condemn Pakistan's actions, some more rhetorics, some increase in defence budgets and as usual try to mount International pressure... Probably, also throw a "mocking bird", some missile advancement or achievement that could take the sight of public from this attack. This option only make him another paper tiger. However, in all likelihood, this would be the most likely course Mr. Modi might take, given India's predilections and past responses...!
In short, Pakistan in a single act has called off Mr. Modi's bluff in Myanmar and had made his Government get caught in its own rhetorical trap. The world now waits to see if Mr. Modi can walk his talk... Or is he yet another paper tiger?