Fallout of surgical strikes
By asking for proof, the Congress and AAP have scored a self-goal and only helped the cause of the BJP, which now does not have to do much, as far as campaigning is concerned in the poll-bound States, says the writer Anita Saluja
A paradigm shift in India’s Pakistan policy has come about in the wake of the surgical strikes conducted by the Indian Army on the intervening night of September 28-29, 2016, across the Line of Control (LoC). Strategic restraint was abandoned for good and India signalled that enough is enough and henceforth Pakistan will not be allowed to get away with impunity after a terror strike. It is for the first time in years that Pakistan has to contend with the government in India, which means business.
The international community is increasingly acknowledging the Indian position that Pakistan has emerged as an epicentre of terrorism. However, when countries like the US, Russia, France, Japan, Canada and the rest have welcomed India’s surgical strikes, dissenting voices are being heard within India. Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal want India to show proof of the strikes, thus raising doubts over the surgical strikes across the LoC.
If that was not all, the Congress, which had supported the surgical stri- kes earlier, is claiming that these kinds of operations were conducted even earlier. However, at that time, stated former Home and Finance Minister P Chidambaram, that no one had gone public. He accused the BJP of taking “political ownership” for the surgical strikes. If the Congress did not make the strikes public, it is their problem. Probably, the Congress-led UPA leadership, at that time, had no courage to announce the operations.
But now, with the Modi government at the helm, things have changed. Soon after the Pathankot attack, there were angry voices being heard from the BJP and the RSS. After the Uri attack, Prime Minister Modi, himself, declared that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished. Within a couple of days, Pakistan was shown its place, with India declaring from the rooftop that they had indeed done surgical strikes that killed 38 militants across the LoC.
To raise doubts on the operations will be nothing less than anti-national. It must be clear to the Congress by now that the people are behind Modi on surgical strikes and instead of finding fault with the government, they should keep quiet and wait till such time when Pakistan’s isolation is complete, globally. Prime Minister Modi has so far not spoken on the surgical strikes, as the entire country is waiting anxiously to see the response from across the border.
After the surgical strikes, the Pakistani militants attacked the 46 Rashtriya Rifles camp at Janbazpora, on the outskirts of Baramullah city, where one BSF Jawan was martyred. Pakistan, obviously, is infuriated by the surgical strikes and it is no secret that they have always been in the denial mode. If there were no surgical strikes, then, why is Pakistan so enraged and has gone to the UN? After India’s attack, there have been around 7 ceasefire violations by Pakistan.
Instead of speaking in unison against Pakistan-sponsored terrorist attacks, Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal are making things difficult for the Modi government, which is trying hard to embarrass Pakistan. Pakistani isolation is complete with SAARC being postponed indefinitely, as all the member-countries sided with India. Within the UN, too, there were no takers for Pakistani claims. In fact, all the Muslim States like UAE, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Oman have sided with India.
Domestically, the surgical strikes have lifted the spirits of the people, who saw attacks like 26/11 and string of other deadly terror attacks go unchallenged. As the Modi Government gave a free hand to the Army to befittingly respond to the situation, it helped instil a sense of self-confidence among the people. Modi is being hailed as the Prime Minister who had the courage to take Pakistan head-on.
Seeing the overwhelming response in favour of surgical strikes, it is natural for the BJP to capitalise Modi’s popularity in the poll-bound State of Uttar Pradesh. Within days after the surgical attacks, posters have come up in UP, hailing the decision of the BJP government and congratulating the Army. Irked by the rising popularity of Prime Minister Modi, the AAP and the Congress leaders were quick to ask for the video proof.
With UP and Punjab elections still a few months away, the Opposition parties should have waited to let the dust settle, instead of joining hands with Pakistan to raise questions against the Modi establishment and the Indian Army. Though the Congress has disassociated itself from the remarks made by Sanjay Nirupam, the harm has already been done. The BJP has geared-up to expose the Congress and the AAP in the name of not believing the Army.
The SP and the BSP are silent on the issue and, taking lessons from the Congress, they are unlikely to raise eyebrows over the authenticity of the strikes. In fact, political parties should adopt the wait and watch principle, as the repercussions of the strikes are likely to continue from across the border. Pakistan has intensified its shelling and attacks across the LoC and one cannot but wonder if India will launch yet another round of surgical strikes on the terrorists’ camps.
Pakistan is hosting heads of al-Qaeda, Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammed and Haqqani Group, all of which have to be destroyed. The hostility between the two nations is bound to get uglier in the coming days. By asking for proof, the Congress and AAP have scored a self-goal and only helped the cause of the BJP, which now does not have to do much, as far as campaigning is concerned in the poll-bound States. They have lost the battle even before the election bugle has been sounded.
(The writer is a senior journalist based in Delhi. She is former Political Editor, The New Indian Express)