New Delhi: Terrorism and targeted strike are separate things. Terrorism is what Pakistan sponsors against India through organizations like the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. They kill innocents in this country. Targeted strike is what finally brought Osama Bin Laden to justice. He paid for his crimes. India must keep this in mind when dealing with Pakistani terrorism.

How is it that Pakistan hangs Mumtaz Qadri, the killer of the former Punjab governor, Salmaan Taseer, but fails to punish LeT and Jaish terrorist leaders? Sundry other terrorist leaders have been executed by Pakistan. Pakistan’s military has been in the forefront of these executions which have judicial approval. The military stepped pressure on Pakistan’s private media to play down Qadri’s death and forestall his deification. Why isn’t it so sensitive to India’s concerns?

Pakistan’s codification of good and bad terrorists is too well known to bear repetition. When Pakistan does not act against anti-India terrorists, it gives a license to India to do so. Previously, Pakistan denied terrorism against India. When evidence mounted to make denial impossible, it blamed the violence on non-state actors. The current narrative is that Pakistan has no control on non-state actors.

Non-state actors are a myth. Pakistan is a military nuclear state. If it has no control on non-state actors, it is reasonable to assume that it exercises no control over regions of the state where these actors are located. In that case, its nuclear weapons are vulnerable in general and particularly so with non-state actors. Would Pakistan accept this analysis? No.

The reality is this. Pakistan’s writ runs to all regions of the state except possibly portions of FATA and Baluchistan. The so-called non-state actors who commit terrorist acts against India are not located in these places. They are primarily located in Punjab and sometimes in Sind. They are fully controlled by the military.

It follows that what Pakistan claims as non-state actors are entirely and unambiguously military proxies. They couldn’t survive otherwise when several other terrorist groups have been eliminated. India should expect no action against them. They will not go the way of Taseer’s killer.

This being established, the nature and scope of India’s counteraction against manufactured non-state actors need to be determined. Being a sensitive subject, only broad suggestions will be advanced. Nothing will be revealed that is not already known.

The only effective counter to Pakistan’s terroristic non-state actors is what the United States did to Osama Bin Laden. It was targeted attack and the United States had legitimacy to carry it out. Leaders of the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Toiba have earned a place besides Bin Laden. Since they are non-state actors and Pakistan has denied control over their terrorism, India has a right to intervene against them at a time and place of its choosing.

This writer would refrain from discussing the type of intervention to mount other than to make some obvious points. It is to be seen as targeted intervention, not a military invasion. Targets are individuals and not organizations. The reasoning is simple. Remove the king and the game is over. The Al-Qaeda has never recovered from the loss of Osama Bin Laden.

Pakistan will react with fury to this piece. It will presume it to be official thinking. It is not. It will indulge in nuclear sabre-rattling. It will finally call on American mediation in Kashmir as though differences on Kashmir justify terrorism. None of this should take away from the essential points made in the piece.

If Pakistan cannot control its non-state actors, it should not object to Indian action. India should presume to have authorization for action since Pakistan has already washed its hands off them. This writer would confidently leave the final decision to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his capable National Security Advisor.

Nota bene: Hotheads would be advised to keep off this subject. It is not suitable for press discussion either. You require being sensible, silent and secretive in some matters.