The recent daring terrorists attack on the army unit in Uri did more than kill eight soldiers including the commanding officer. It punctured claims by the political leadership and forced the army to further fortify perimeter defences around its camps and installations in Kashmir. Recall home minister Rajnath Singh saying on October 16: ‘No country can give a warning to India. India has become a powerful nation of the world.’ Then defence minister, Arun Jaitley told a television channel in early November: ‘Our conventional strength is far more than theirs (Pakistan). So if they persist with this, they will feel the pain of this adventurism.’ Expressing satisfaction at army’s anti-infiltration grid on the Line of Control (LC), Jaitley had informed the Rajya Sabha on July 24: “Innovative troops deployment, efficient use of surveillance and monitoring devices and fencing along the LC have enhanced ability to detect and intercept infiltration.” What should the government and army do now to ensure Pakistan-backed terrorism ceases? Analysts opine that the army should do calibrated offensive in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). From raids on enemy posts to firing on terrorists’ training areas, hide-outs and launch pads across the LC, the army should send powerful messages to the Pakistan Army. Why will the Pakistan Army not retaliate in equal measure, why will the calibrated response not cross the war threshold, and will all this achieve the primary objective of stopping cross-border terrorism are questions no one can bet upon. Meanwhile, the stunned army has decided to further strengthen perimeter defences around its encampments and installations in Kashmir. Fences around army formations will soon have anti-infiltration intercepts that Jaitley said exist on the LC. So, there will now be fences within fences starting from the LC inwards. More round the clock army patrolling and guarding accompanied with intensified counter-insurgency operations and firings at select enemy targets on the other side will follow. And the debate on the removal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) will cease. While the above measures will make it more difficult for the terrorists’ to make contact, it will not deter the Pakistan Army. Deterrence, however, is possible if India takes five steps: One, while there is a need for stronger defences around army camps, the fence on the LC should be dismantled. The LC fence which was erected in 2004 after the ceasefire came into being on 26 November 2003 has instilled a defensive mind-set in the Indian Army and provides comfort to the enemy. The army got the idea for the fence from the BSF which started erecting the fence on the Jammu international border in 1995. But, the BSF is different from the army in two respects. Its main task, being a paramilitary force, is area domination for guarding purposes. Unlike the army, it does not prepare for war. The army, on the other hand, has fenced the LC, which is a military-held line, a first of its kind anywhere in the world. Undoing the fence will caution the Pakistan Army against escalation which given its commitments elsewhere it can ill afford. Two, the army should embrace an offensive posture. The soldiers should observe Pakistani posts on hill tops rather than search for infiltrators along the riverine routes where presently all its surveillance sensors are pointed. This reorientation will spur commanding officers to do war training rather than anti-infiltration on the LC. The blunder of the 1999 Kargil conflict will not be repeated. Remember it took more than five days for the then 15 corps commander, Lt Gen. Kishan Pal (responsible for the Kashmir theatre) to realise that the Pakistan Army had moved forward and occupied Indian heights; he had prematurely said that it was another infiltration attempt. Three, once army units do training for war, the focus will shift to war preparedness. In a bottoms-up chain reaction, formations and the Army Headquarters in Delhi will work on providing ammunition and critical weapons deficiencies for units on the LC. In 2011, the army chief Gen. V.K. Singh had written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which got leaked to the media, that the army was not fit for war. His successor, Gen. Bikram Singh conceded that war wastage reserves stocks, a must for preparedness, were precariously low. The situation which has not altered much will finally change. Four, the dismantling of the LC fence and preparation for war preparedness will send a powerful message to the Pakistan Army. However, if India wants to be more assertive, it should consider doing away with the decade old ceasefire. On ground, the long range artillery which has been silent on both sides will come alive with small arms and mortars receding to the background. This will result in collateral damage and hardships for the border population which was the norm until 2003. With ceasefire over, the Pakistan Army will be compelled to choose between war with India, which will be a step away, and its numerous tasks both internally and on the Afghanistan front. And five, irrespective of the AFSPA, the army should plan to progressively hand over its CI role to the paramilitary after the present assembly elections. The revocation of the AFSPA, which will be a political decision, will be easier to do once the Pakistan Army knows that the Indian Army is focused on its primary role, that is, war-fighting. Surely, infiltration will also come down.