By: Tukoji R. Pandit
Pakistan has been pursuing a more aggressive anti-India policy than ever before and India seems helpless. Pakistan has attacked forward military bases inside the country twice in less than a year with the help of ISI-trained terrorists. It is obvious that the unrest in Kashmir is reaching alarming proportions. Pakistan may be behind it but the government has no strategy to counter it.
Like the previous governments, the Modi government has failed to respond to Pakistani terror with any force, be it Pathankot or Uri. The series of meetings held after the terror attacks should not have been necessary if a well thought out counter plan was in place. You do not serve advance notice or alert the adversary about the likelihood of a ‘strong’ reply. The response has to be instant to have any impact. The enemy has to be caught off-guard.
The Uri attack by Pakistani terrorists and what the government did, or did not, do after it has shown the party of self-proclaimed patriots and the self-styled protectors of the nation as being no different from the much maligned previous governments. The scale of the toxic export of Pakistani terror has not declined. Clearly, the BJP can talk but cannot walk the talk.
It will be an understatement to say that the whole nation is outraged by the terror attack on the Uri army camp which ended with the heaviest Indian casualty (18 soldiers) in recent years. But perhaps it will be truer to suggest that the nation is more sore over the Narendra Modi’s government failure to live up to its strong words against Pakistan. The so-called diplomatic offensive sounds good on paper but its impact may be uncertain.
The BJP and particularly the prime minister must take the blame for the current fury and sense of disappointment in the country. The government has not explained what prevented it from a strong response to Pakistan. There has been an avalanche of comments in large sections of the media against any ‘military action’ after the Uri attack but no wise words about how to stop Pakistan’s terror attacks. The self-styled ‘conscience-keeper’ of the nation, a self-professed admirer of the prime minister, declared smugly on his TV show that Uri happened because of Manmohan Singh, the previous prime minister!
Let it be said straightaway that every sensible person agrees that a military attack, limited or calibrated or whatever, on Pakistan will certainly carry a grave risk. Pakistan does not think of consequences of its aggressive and provocative acts against its neighbours. It has found a ‘profitable’ way to bleed India ‘with a thousand cuts’ by using terror as state policy. That will not change without India being able to administer a ‘shock’ to the Pakistanis.
The BJP must accept that if the people are getting disillusioned with it on Pakistan it is because the nation’s psyche was moulded by years of its chant for a ‘strong’ Indian response to Pakistan which has not been seen after 1971. People expect a quick response and a telling one at that because that is what they were told was the only honourable way for a proud country.
The constant playing up of the ‘patriotic’ and ‘nationalist’ theme by the right wing elements and the BJP over the years has led most Indians to believe that not attacking Pakistan for terror attacks on India amounts to ‘cowardice’. The Indian public is not going to change this view overnight. Anger and frustration will linger because no ‘strong’ response to Pakistan is in sight. The voice of ‘restraint’ has always been ridiculed in the past.
As a party with a majoritarian agenda, the BJP is in a position to alter the ‘hawkish’ narrative in the country to one of sobriety and coolheaded calculations. But the party cannot be expected to undertake this task when senior government and ruling party members demand that the adversary’s ‘jaws’ be broken after each terror attack on India.
The BJP finds using the ‘patriotic’ card as a useful means to attract voters. Advocating ‘restraint’ has not been a tradition in the party. The union minister who said that not reacting forcefully after the Uri attack will be ‘cowardice’ was not embarrassing his government or himself; he was echoing a sentiment that comes naturally to him. Syndicate Features