Bitterness after ‘Surgery’

By Tushar Charan.

There may be quibbling over the term used for the attack conducted by a special group of the Indian Army on terrorist launch pads inside PoK on September 29 but the success of that daring act cannot be doubted. Pakistan has admitted that two of its soldiers were killed in firing from across the border even as it launched a massive propaganda drive to debunk the Indian assertion that it was a ‘surgical strike’ inside a territory Pakistan controls.

Suspiciously, Pakistan took more than a week to show to a captive team of Pakistani journalists that no other damage was caused by the Indian forces—no tell-tale signs of destroyed structures. The two Pakistani soldiers were killed by an Indian gun shot from four or five Km away?

But the narrative in India has been shifting from unanimous praise for the surgical attack to a verbal attacks by critics who are asking the government why it was shy of producing the ‘evidence’ of the September 29 surgical strike. Not done, yell the government and its supporters. A lot of ‘anti-national’ elements—traitors, if you please—have again sprung up everywhere. In the ensuing bitterness the point that most critics were asking the government to present the ‘proof’ only to expose the lies and misinformation that Pakistan was spreading was lost.

Pleased as Punch by this unexpected turn of events in India, Pakistan establishment thinks that they stand vindicated because they had been shouting from roof tops that what India called ‘surgical strike’ was an Indian ‘illusion’. Where was the ‘proof’, they asked?

This was when the muddy waters of Indian politics came to the fore. The chest-thumping ruling party members, including ministers, were claiming that for the first time ever in the history of India, Pakistan has been given a befitting reply. Never before had Indian forces crossed the line of control to hit Pakistani targets.

Certainly paralyzed by the surgical strikes, the GHQ Shura has decided on retaliatory action in the shape of stepped up attacks on Indian security targets, mainly in Jammu and Kashmir; the possibility of extending these attacks to the mainland could not be ruled out.

Delhi did not seem to respond to this renewed Pakistani frenzy along the LoC or the international border in North India. It cannot be said if it was a deliberate act of restraint by India while looking for a suitable opportunity to pulverize the Pakistanis later. But the fact is that the ‘restraint’ continues.

After the attack on an army camp in Uri by Pakistan, the term ‘restraint’ or ‘strategic restraint’ has generated much heat in the country with its advocates outnumbered by those who oppose it vehemently. That latter group of people, who include many strategic experts, is of the view that India has needlessly suffered on account of its unilateral policy of restraint. The pro-restraint lobby has been warning of a nuclear catastrophe should India give up its policy of restraint, given the preponderance of Islamist generals in the Pakistan Army. The civilian government in Pakistan, always working under the thumb of the generals, does not control Pakistan’s ‘crown jewels’, its nuclear arsenal.

The counter argument is that if India does not call off the Pakistani bluff it will always have to live with the Pakistani export of terror. The only chance of making Pakistan realise its folly of using terror as a key component of its India policy is to make it pay a ‘heavy price’ for it.

There are diplomatic and economic ways of doing that, though success for India could still elude given the fact terrorism is seen as its most potent weapon by the Pakistanis. They will not part with it easily. But these methods could look more effective if India also uses its military muscle in a calibrated manner. Military experts have said that it is not necessary to launch an outright military against Pakistan to make it pay for its provocations and paranoia about India.

The September 29 surgical attacks have perhaps demonstrated that this policy could work with a proviso. Pakistan cannot be allowed to go on attacking Indian security posts, army camps et al and go on killing civilians and security personnel. At least the public would not accept that anymore though a country’s policy cannot be hijacked by popular opinion. (Syndicate Features)

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