A faceless jawan manning a post in strife-torn Kashmir has to contend with stress-levels deadlier than bullets. And, at the end of the day, the man in uniform feels would it really make a difference if he sacrifices his life?
A low-intensity conflict situation sounds a lot easier to handle than "war." Ask any soldier what he would prefer - proxy war or full-fledged war - and he would choose the latter.
This is not because they are war-mongers but because there are more certainties in war than in any counter-insurgency environment. Most importantly, in a war situation the soldier knows the enemy. With an undefined enemy, achieving goals is a challenge. There is no objective to be achieved and victory is abstract.
To add insult to injury, the soldier in a low-intensity conflict is enemy number one for the local populace. And it is up to him to ensure that the locals are not harmed. This too in a situation where it's difficult to separate innocents from militants. He is also under tremendous pressure to avoid collateral damage. The terms of engagement here cannot be specific like in a war. But danger lurks at every step.
Given these constraints, it is difficult to fight this conflict strictly by the human rights book. The decision-makers and the society at large have to decide whether rights of the militants are more valuable than that of a soldier.
This article was published in Dailypioneer. Sometimes, I too feel to why not have a full fledged war and settle scores permanently. But our peace loving (??) minds do not agree to that!!