We are able to see the reaction to 2019 in various incidents to mob violence across India, even in the heart of the country, in Delhi. Being from the same subcontinent Muslim psyche, Pak can be expected to react in a similar way, once they get their bailout package settled. Expect large scale terror spectaculars once the bailout is secured. Such things may happen this december, when the snow bound borders make cross border strikes more difficult.
If I were to be really Chanakian, the govt. should continue to grow the economy and strengthen the defense/offence capabilities while pretending to engage the Pakis. This is the last 5 - 10 years of Pakis being an irritant in the subcontinent. The last stretch is the most tricky and many times, the most bloody stretch of a conflict. Hopefully, most of the blood will be spilt on the Paki side of the border.
In case there are indeed spectaculars, just how should the govt. of India react? First and foremost, terrorism is a battle fought in the mindspace of the citizen and the jihadi. If the citizen thinks, his govt. did not react sufficiently, the country has lost and the jihadi has won. If the jihadi is seen to be given a jaw breaker, he has lost. From this point of view:
1. We can reasonably gather a surmise, that many mid level terrorist managers/trainers were indeed killed and this may result in a slowdown in attacks in Kashmir in the short term.
2. Regardless of the real world success, Balakot was a propaganda world failure, in that it did not result in visible deaths of terrorists.
3. On the political side, it did not destabilize either Dimrans govt. nor the fauji hold on the goings on.
Comparing it with the Uri strikes, the strikes were a lot more successful in the propaganda visuals they produced. In the next strike, we should cater to our political requirements (Destabilize the planners of the operations, so they are deterred) and the propaganda requirements that arise from our political requirements.
Some tools for high propaganda value attacks are:
1. SDB type weapons.
2. Shrapnel less weapons that have a highly reduced kill radius.
3. Attack targets must be in cities and not jungles that take 2 days hike to get there. The damage must be visible.
4. Anticipate the Pak reaction and modify ROE to deter the reaction itself. IMHO, Pak planes should not have been allowed to mobilize at that high rate to raid India. Why should a Pak plane fly towards the Indian border in the aftermath of a surgical strike, if not to attack India? And if he is trying to attack India, why should he not be shot down?
5. We must make better use of narrative building.. Govt. officials must stop putting out facts and factoids, instead giving out narratives (a string of facts/propaganda lies that fit together in a story).
6. We must preposition journalists and 'citizen reporters'. All of them have phones with high quality cameras. These are propaganda force multipliers on the ground. If 5 minutes before the strike, one, or more local journo was called and told, get outside your home.. and start recording the sky. Something huge is going to happen.. we could have gotten on the ground reportage out even before Pakis could clamp down on the information.
7. Finally, we must also step up our support to NDS, BLA, MQM, criminal gangs etc.