I posted this before & will repeat it - there will be no escalation beyond the norm. IMHO only. Following is my limited understanding of the situation & no attempt to state the obvious to somebody like RahulM, whom I bet has pretty much a solid grasp of this far beyond I do! He is stating what is our wish, that we inflict disproportionate response and bring this sordid saga of attacks on India to an end.
Anyhow - my theory if you will
We have a Machiavellian (his opponents call him that out of sheer dismay, and to a degree it is true), very methodical individual at the helm. He has a set of tasks he has decided to do, and an all out war, without waging it to decisively and overwhelmingly win, with minimal loss to the Indian civilization state, is not going to happen. We cannot do that yet, so he will calibrate & proceed on multiple fronts at parallel.
He will decide the escalation matrix, and the TSP guys will be severely punished, but it will be calibrated. It will also be constant. The way I see it, with my limited understanding - it is to
a) Fix the Indian Governance structure & get it out its corruption & paralysis plus the effect of various influence peddlers (foreign & domestic).
b ) Restore the indian economy to build both GOI negotiating power & prepare the public to look beyond narrow parochial & survivalist need
c ) build up the Indian armed forces & institutions to respond to national security needs without being influenced by vested interests.
d) Build up a coherent political force that remains in charge of the Indian state, to achieve points A to C.
Each of the actions undertaken tie into one of the above 4 points IMHO. some of them required huge leaps of political will & faith & were directly contradictory to a politicians stated aim hitherto in India, which is to survive and loot & ensure kith & kin remain in fine fettle. This also explains why kith & kin have been kept far away at arms distance. They have no play in this humongous & ambitious plan & hence attacking them, makes no difference to the person, who himself is in an all-or-nothing play. It also explains (unfortunately) why irritating gnats like the DDM and assorted p-secs have been ignored. Their combined caterwauling was evaluated, and deemed to not be sufficient to attack and address point D, which is to win the hearts and minds of the bulk of the Indian populace which is effectively rural, agrarian &/or urbanizing but needs a strong "paternalist" state to survive. For them, bringing governance back and economic boost is important.
At the same time, the urban population like BRF needs the above plus a public reaffirmation of successful national will - hence the publicly stated surgical strikes, and now these cross border hits, videotaped and shown.
Just to point out what I mean by decisive war making capability and why it will take time, beyond IMHO 2019.
The ammunition shortfall - thanks to deliberate UPA malfeasance, is calculated by GOI estimate, as Rs 6000 Crores, to make up WWR. Apart frm this is WWR 10(i). This refers to 10 days intense, 2 front conflict. This is why the orders for around $500 Mn placed for ammo and spares were placed.
If we see above, there are huge lacunae in equipment for each service above and beyond immediate WWR and ammo. Each of this will be gradually built up.
MOF has to play balancing act. For instance, PM took a huge decision on demonetization. Based on whatever public sources I have read, it was motivated squarely to clean up the economy of vested interests & terror funding. The black money optics and data collection post event not withstanding. However, it would affect a consumption led economy & consequently, such periodic actions have to be taken into account. The current infra investment etc will only pay off post 2019. The GOI is doing whatever it can to start the engine, but it is chugging & not racing. It is in this milieu, that orders for 36 Rafale are placed and not 72 at one shot.
So, with this in mind, will this GOI wage a hot war against TSP? I think not. The person at the helm has his calculations & they are of the methodical kind. He will work with the IA to plug the border (as much as possible) and impose punitive costs. More fronts will be opened in far away areas. At the same time, IB & R&AW will be leaned onto avoid Mumbai 26/11s and train sabotage etc, which are an ever present threat. The states in control will be brought more and more under the ambit of an iron curtain regarding operational security. And as to these tactical attacks on Indian security forces, they will be met with more such publicly telecast retaliation. A cold "hot war" will continue till things continue to fall in place. If that is the case, then why build up WWR etc? Well, as I said methodical. Is it any surprise that our CAS told all his 12,000 officers to be prepared, BEFORE the IA took its revenge? Hardly. Similarly, we are to be prepared for a Kargil or mini-Kargil and escalation, but we will continue to calibrate it.
I agree its not optimal. In an ideal world, we would not have been ruled by a corrupt mafiosi for a decade and we would be strong enough by now. But we are where we are, and we have to accept the same & see the chess game being played. The TSP guys know what the stakes are, so they will up the stakes in barbarity. Their optics are about us second guessing the elected PM, his establishment, the Army & in our fear & desperation, torpedo the nation building effort continuing currently. On our side, we too should be vigilant and by all means, expect the GOI to not fall back into somnolence and hit back. But there won't be a hot war. However, in a decade, if this man & his handpicked successors continue, there may well be no need for one. If the Indian internal security situation is brought well under control, with appeasement politics a thing of the past, and INC-Left nexus consigned to dustbins, then we will have what PVNR et al were known for, viz TSP internal affairs, many times over. And IA/IAF/IN will be so strong that conventional conflict will be a mugs game. Ditto for strategic capabilities. Then TSP will just fester in a throe of subconventional messes, and our babus will sit & munch marie biscuit & nod their heads sagely when think tanks ask us to "de-escalate". Much the same way foreigners kowtow to the Middle Kingdom over ties with the renegade province, which BTW has supapawa support and first class economic and tech capability to sustain itself, which TSP does not. How long will 3.5 prop up an increasingly failing state when the next door power & rising Sun is needed to handle the Dragon & its market and capabilities are necessary both to sustain their economies and their own wayward lifestyles.
I suspect this is what the PM & his crew are working towards, optics of the occasional WKK trip apart. It is the long game, all of a decade at least, which the TSP guys are aware of, and hence wish to attack, but their own internal schizophrenia & loathing of the "other" will ensure they will never make peace & will hence consign themselves to irrelevance. For here is the point, when in a decades time, the iron grip of the Indian state is near absolute, where will the baying jackals of TSP go, to spread "purity" but the cantonments of the TSP state itself? It will be of course, watched with severe sadness by GOI which will solemnly till TSP to be aware of human rights & dignity of the oppressed T-bunnies. Meanwhile, IA will be funded more & more, in years to come to seal the border & fight with more support. That too will happen, despite all of us folks getting frustrated at the pace of it all, and the always harsh sacrifice being paid by IA folks.
Anyways, this is my limited take, and I do wish there was another way. But incremental and methodical progress is this PM's approach, or so it seems, with the occasional large risk, again done for specific aims. He will appeal to emotion, but the iron fist in a velvet glove, thats always there.