The covert and later in 1998 demonstrated nuclear stand off in the sub continent while ensuring strategic stability for more than two decades had generated space for manoeuvres other than general war. Prior to the 9/11 episode, Pakistan held the advantage and used it dexterously for maximizing support for the Kashmir cause and furtherance of other national interests. Indian aggressive designs remained dormant and response strategy localised and constrained essentially centred on subversive activities as quid pro quo for the freedom struggle in India-occupied Kashmir. The Indians chaffed and strained at the leash but could not correct the imbalance. 9/11 changed this environment emphatically. It provided the basis for a global design to fight terrorism, which was perceived and propagated to reside in the Islamic world, particularly Afghanistan and adjoining areas in Pakistan. We have historically remained victims of our geography. Anyone's and everyone's wars became our burden as we lay in the path of invasions. The notion of this zone being the epicentre of terrorism coupled with Pakistan nuclear capability; a combustible combination started to occupy central place in policy formulation. The Indo-US strategic partnership with Israel as a rider clause has many overlapping global objectives. Pakistan's nuclear strength in this backdrop appears anachronistic, hence to be emasculated over a period of time through internal conditioning and sustained external pressure. Prolonged coercion therefore becomes the preferred option to demoralize and marginalise Pakistan. This is the new face of war. Our inability to remove Taliban strongholds in FATA has negatively impacted on our credibility as a state. The theme of our ineffectiveness had been propagated by the US-led alliance. Now it has become the favourite Indian mantra. Our acquiescence to "Predatory Forays" in Pakistan is taken as a licence by an aggrieved India, claiming equality of right of retaliation. Although in all fairness the two have fundamentally different connotations and as almost poetically put by Miss Arundhati Roy that India is not America. The Mumbai attack was a well-scripted drama with global and regional linkages. While remaining short of war, the stakeholders will work in concert to coerce Pakistan into a pre-determined client status. The ghost of Mumbai debacle is going to linger on for quite a while, as it is the latest twist in the chain of events created to achieve the desired end state. Each event has been manipulated to make us look ugly and forced to cede moral ground. It seeks to impose on Pakistan a status of permanent culpability. We are being quarantined diplomatically, morally and financially. Inner front has become activated. Shortages, outages and price hikes are being articulated to generate angry protests to undermine the writ of government. Incessant self-deprecation and confessional statements by certain Indo-soft quarters have become the staple food of hostile propaganda. While blaming each other for policy and implementation failures and hiccups, we must not forget that we are beset by extraordinary challenges and being made to operate in a cleverly crafted dense environment with limited response options. However, our people, leadership and parliament's unified stand and mainstream print and electronic media's robust rejoinders have made India's jingoistic bellicosity look mean, hollow and pre-meditated. The armed forces have taken essential operational precautions in measured, confident and unobtrusive manner, which contrasts sharply with the Indian hysteria. What are the immediate Indian objectives? Firstly, vitiate atmosphere to shift focus away from possible US interest in resolving the Kashmir issue. Secondly, isolate, demoralise and marginalise Pakistan. Thirdly, achieve diplomatic and psycho-moral ascendency. Fourthly, dictate stronger terms to Pakistan to act against the leftover support for freedom struggle in the India-held Kashmir. Fifthly, ensure more favourable trade, cultural and political equations. Sixthly, obtain political mileage with an eye on the forthcoming elections in India. Will India strike across the borders now or later? The answers are linked to what we perceive and convey as an act of war, our capacity and operational readiness, the indicated tolerance thresholds and the credibility of our resolve. These are a few essential ingredients of nuclear dialectics. We can deter aggression through robust posturing and pro-active diplomacy because timidity and regression can invite adventure. Across the board our political and military leadership has reacted well. This display of unity and patriotism has surprised India, which has started whining and terming it as whipping up of war hysteria by Pakistan. We need to further integrate and synergise our response. We need to re-establish our credibility as well. We must analyse as to why a less convincing India is more believable in the world. The nation has to be suitably kept informed and mobilised in order to get its wholehearted support. Realistic and holistic response options are required to be worked out to negotiate with the new US administration as it remains at the core of strategic balance in the region. A comprehensive and mutually acceptable modus operandi has to be evolved in order to de-link the Indo-US nexus in the short term, at least to gain some breathing space. We have been manoeuvred into a tight corner and another Mumbai type attack can propel events into spiral escalation automatically. It must not be forgotten that howsoever errant, intrinsically we are fair minded, egoistic and courageous people who cannot countenance haughty and abrasive Indian posturing and hectoring. A publicly hurt Pakistan will react vigorously and resolutely irrespective of the cost. Any underestimation of our national resolve can be fatal because this time around, the war is not likely to remain limited and localised. The Indian intransigence has a design. The situation on the whole is being kept grim and by open-ended to keep the heat on for a sequel called Mumbai-II.