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Half Steps
The inward-oriented mindset of the 16 corps has a lot to do with the Pakistanis not being deterred

FORCE editors at a forward post in Poonch a few meters from the LC
FORCE editors at a forward post in Poonch a few meters from the LC

The main difference between 15 corps (responsible for the Valley) and 16 corps (responsible for areas south of Pir Panjal, which divides Jammu and Kashmir) is obvious. The former is focussed on combating insurgency with an emphasis on Operation Sadbhavana, while the latter does more of area domination close to the Line of Control (LC) to check infiltration. The area domination task got an added impetus by the unfortunate incidents in 2013 which witnessed maximum ceasefire violations in recent years by Pakistan in 16 corps zone.

To get the sense of how 16 corps was doing its task, FORCE team had recently travelled across the corps zone (10 and 25 divisions), a distance of over 271 km stretching from north of Chenab river till foothills of Pir Panjal which divides Jammu and Kashmir, to assess the existing dynamics on the military line. Our impressions were mixed. The field commanders (corps commander and below) have done the best they could and are prepared to give a taste of the bitter medicine back to the Pakistan Army. Senior commanders (army commander and COAS) can do much more to support tactical levels. However, despite defence minister A.K. Antony’s assertion in the Parliament that the army has been given a free hand, the political level remains the weakest link in the LC show of strength which continues to be tilted in favour of the Pakistan Army.

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