By Saurabh Pareek:
When sections of the middle class of the world’s largest democracy were feeling disheartened because of the continued weak stand on terrorism by the elected representatives, the surgical strike to kill terrorists in Pakistan has been well received.
In a hurried press conference, the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt General Ranbir Singh said that the Indian Army had conducted a surgical strike across the Line of Control (LoC). The counter-terrorist operation was carried out after the Indian Army received information about terrorist groups attempting to cross the LoC for terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir and metro cities in India.
The DGMO also mentioned that the Pakistani counterparts have also been informed about the operation and there are no further plans to continue such strikes. The number of casualties has not been specified. But General Ranbir Singh pointed out in the press conference that “significant casualties were caused to terrorists and to those supporting them.”
For the past ten days, there has a been a lot of speculation, exchange of strong words and planning.
1. On September 18, 2016, four heavily armed terrorists attacked the Indian Army headquarters in Uri, near LoC. Eighteen Indian soldiers lost their lives in this attack and it was one of the biggest attacks on the Indian Armed Forces till date. There was a strong negative sentiment brewing in the camps of the armed forces and also the citizens. There was a desire for a counter-attack from some sections. BJP, the party currently in power has always said that it believes in zero tolerance against terrorism. India’s stand on terrorism was under red scanner due to multiple terror attacks in less than a year. It included the attack on the Pathankot air base in the beginning of the year.
2. This may not be the first time that a counter-terrorist activity has been carried out but this is probably the first time that an operation has been made public by the Indian Army and government.
3. Pakistani Army has denied any such surgical strike. But the Pakistan Army has said that two soldiers were killed due to firing by the Indian forces. In the words of the DGMO, “those trying to support them are also a part of casualties.”
4. In the past ten days, we saw a heavy exchange of words on both sides at The UN Convention and on social media by politicians and citizens. On one side, there was strong pressure on the Indian Government to respond to this attack. The Prime Minister gave a message from Kerala and said that both India and Pakistan should fight against poverty. Nawaz Sharif gave a speech at the UN convention about the disputed region of Kashmir. This was followed by a strongly worded message by Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs, to clear India’s stand on zero-tolerance for such activities.
5. India has pulled out from the planned SAARC Summit in Islamabad. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka have also pulled out.
6. The international community suggested that India should keep their response low and avoid any major counter-action against the attacks in Uri.
7. As a precautionary step, many villages within 10 kilometers of the international border in Punjab were vacated. What sets apart this surgical strike by the Indian Army is the political will and support which has been shown this time.The open acceptance from the Army and government in a joint press conference conveys a very strong message that it’s not business-as-usual anymore.
India has been known in the international fraternity as a peaceful and sober nation which has avoided any counter activity even after major terrorist strikes and chosen diplomatic routes. But NDA government led by Narendra Modi has decided to take a strong stand against such activities.