Beware. This post might not be easy on the eyes. And jingoism. There. I said it. In the opening sentence itself. Because I am not going to go gaga over an army move that was brave, heroic, adventurous et al. I have no reasons to downplay the ‘Surgical Strike’ either. I’m fully well aware of the capabilities of the third largest army in the world. Which also happens to be the largest self volunteer militia globally. Learn that these strikes are not the first of its kind, and will certainly not be the last. Know that the game India has been playing in and with Balochistan is a double edged sword, akin to the one played in the east in 1971.
By now, thanks to the powers of internet, I am sure most of its inhabitants have learnt by heart what a surgical strike is. They know that we did not lose a single soldier in these attacks and killed 35-40 terrorists and their backers. That number is debatable. What is sure is that these terrorists were killed. And in double digits. It would be foolhardy not to believe these statistics, especially in the times of such zealotry. But surely this was not the first strike of its kinds that India has conducted. True we have a policy of “non-aggression” or we will not attack first, but I somehow doubt that the army had, prior to this attack, not been given the go ahead for such surgical strikes. Why then were these attacks publicised so much?
To break it down and understand, let us at the onset agree that Narendra Modi is no fan of subtlety. His plans, his visions, his words and his aura, all is either grand or projected to be. But why did the army step in here, to announce that they had indeed conducted strikes, and that too for the first time? A Director General of Military Operations briefing media in the heart of the capital city of the country is a rare blue-moon event. Why did he do it then?
The easy and simple answer, my friend, is to send a message. To publicise, and make sure that people sit up and notice. War, cruel and damaging as it may be, is won more by tact than by strength. I’m not justifying killing people and soldiers in the name of protecting imaginary lines drawn on the surface of the earth. I am not in favour of shelling city after city to wipe out terror. That has never served its purpose and never will. However, that is the entire idea of the protecting a country, from where we all derive an identity and protected that identity must be.
Pakistan, a country which itself has perhaps been the worst victim of perpetrating terror, needed to be told in a bold language that enough is enough. The nation had to be reminded of who India’s friends were. Most of all, the terrorists needed to be told that their backers, their sponsors could not save them in the times of adversities. That they must give up choosing India as a target.
Now hold on. Did that message go across as it was intended to? Apparently not. Pakistan continues to deny that there was ever any strike of any kind. It has gone all guns blazing to prove the same, even ferrying journalists to and fro to the disputed region to prove that there was no ‘surgical strike’. But here in lies the catch-22 situation. Pakistan claims to have ‘captured’ one Indian soldier during one such attack. India says the soldier crossed ‘inadvertently’. If indeed Pakistan has the soldier in captivity, this proves that such a strike did take place. And validates India’s point that our neighbour is indeed operating terror camps in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir region. Which further hamstrings their position that they have nothing to do with the terrorist attacks on India.
India on the other hand is in a different sort of a catch-22 situation itself. If the strike did take place as the government claims, why is it hesitating to release videographic proof of the operations? Surely, it would not be as hard. And that too when the government claims that there is a video proof of the operation.
And how in the seventh hell did one soldier ‘inadvertently’ cross the border? A soldier is always with his platoon, especially in sensitive areas like the Line of Control. Surely a soldier is no random illiterate villager who does not know where the Indian limit ends and the danger lines start? Was the soldier sent ahead to gather intel? Was he captured during the so called surgical strike? What was a solitary army man doing away from his platoon? Did his commanding officer know about his whereabouts? There are many questions that crop up due to this one missing personnel. Be rest assured that the message India wanted to convey to the world has been relayed in pitch perfect condition.
Chuck that aside too. Surgical strikes done with, what is next for India? If anyone is under the illusion that India will attack Pakistan and bulldoze it to ground, we are oh so wrong. If we have any assumptions that the world will stop trading or cease its economic activities with Pakistan, we are living in a utopian world then. Diplomatic isolation is a long process, one which may take decades, perhaps two or three, without the much desired result. What must India do to nip terror once and for all?
The first is to establish an order, without using force, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Tough as it may be in the current times, the government needs to open a political line of dialogues with all parties, separatists included, to understand and then cull any rebellion if the need be. It’s important to talk to separatists to beat them at their own logic. It is imperative to understand their selfish designs and expose it to the public to see and judge. It is important to take the people of the Jammu and Kashmir into confidence that the government is not trying to use them to score a political point in the world forums. Nipping in the bud of all rebels must be achieved diplomatically, for all force used will go against India’s objective of lasting peace in the valley.
The second would be to continue with such surgical strikes, such pre-emptive attacks and give Pakistan a taste of its own medicine. Aggressive as it may be, it will force terrorists to think at least once before they opt for such missions. Surely the stock markets will dip on such days when reports of surgical strikes hit television screens, but that needs to be done. The other reason such strikes must continue in the future is to establish a diversion in the mind of Pakistan’s government, while it also continues to battle its internal problems and diplomatic hurdles on the international front.
The third and most important would be to use all its might and block Pakistan economically. That would hurt the nation like nothing else. Pakistan, as it is, is struggling with a massive loan from China and grants and aids from other international organisations. The best way a nation can be run into ground, without using any force is to isolate it economically. While it may be impossible for India to do so in the next five years, the country and government needs to think in that direction too.
Having said all this, I do proclaim that I am no expert on terror, international relations, defence or Pakistan itself. Whatever I have written, is what I believe, in the best interests of the nation, without hurting itself too much.
For hurt it shall. That no one can stop.
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