Indian politicians are famous for doing “kadi ninda” (severely criticizing) and even after the recent Uri attack in which 18 of our soldiers were killed by Pakistani terrorists most of our political class was inclined towards issuing a “kadi nandi”. Of course “kadi ninda” was done, but along with that this time, there has been a tectonic shift in the way India normally reacts to terrorist attacks. It has happened for the first time in Indian history. There has been a surgical operation to destroy terrorist launching pads beyond the LOC carried out in the wee hours of September 29, 2016.
For the first time in Indian history India has taken a unilateral decision to cross over the LOC and destroy terrorist camps and launching pads. For the first time in history, India is not simply reacting to an incursion from the Pakistani army side (although logically incursions are happening all the time) but has actually taken an initiative to strike first.
The best news is that all our commandos came back after causing the intended damage. It shows how well planned the operations were. They knew exactly where they were hitting. The strikes were well coordinated. Multiple attacks were made on different locations and all the locations were at a considerable distance from each other. After the successful operation, the news of the entire exercise was announced through a joint press conference of the Army and the External Affairs Ministry and the news was also delivered to the Pakistani Army director of military operations.
Before the strike India successfully, globally, isolated Pakistan. The SAARC submit was boycotted with the help of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Due to our diplomatic offensive various countries are already sending warnings to Pakistan.
But these are all rhetorical and diplomatic tactics. The major shift of course is the actual strike. Due to perpetual state of nonaction, India has come to be known as a soft state when it comes to dealing with terrorism across the border. Dossiers are compiled and delivered. Committees are formed. Delegations are sent. The topic is raised on various international forums. Uncle Sam’s reprimand for Pakistan is sought.
Forget Pakistan for a while, with the strikes India has conveyed to the rest of the world that we are capable of handling our own problems and we are not willing to seek approval from other countries and organisations like the UNO before carrying out a military operation that concerns the safety of our citizens. With these strikes, India has suddenly matured into a country capable of handling its own problems. If India wants membership of the Security Council, this is a better position to try for it rather than from a position that is constantly complaining to the superpowers about an unruly neighbour. Its international implications are going to unfold in the coming days.
With the strike India has also conveyed to China that it is not bothered by its support to Pakistan. When India needs to take a military decision, it is going to take it based on its own security requirements rather than wondering how China is going to react.
Now comes the tricky nuclear question. The peaceniks who are against a military action against Pakistan always raise the bogey of a nuclear holocaust. What if Pakistan reacts in a very bad manners and starts a nuclear war in desperation? Not happening. Simply because Pakistan does not know how to carry out precision nuclear strikes. It doesn’t have the know-how.
The recent developments shouldn’t come as a surprise as India’s posturing has gone through a fundamental change despite Narendra Modi’s friendly overtures towards a bumbling Nawaz Sharif. The Indian external affairs mandarins have started saying that forget about Jammu and Kashmir in India, the real problem is POK — the Pak Occupied Kashmir. It’s that part of Kashmir that needs to be liberated rather than the Kashmir on Indian side.
Narendra Modi also set in motion India’s realpolitik shift from the ramparts of the Red Fort during his August 15 2016 speech. No Indian politician worth his or her salt has had the guts (or political sincerity) to raise the Balochistan issue in such a big way. He talked about the disputed area in Pakistan in his Independence Day speech. The issue has been raised in various international forums by India multiple times to such an effect that European Union is contemplating an embargo on Pakistan due to its human rights violations in Balochistan. The Indus Water Treaty is already being reconsidered. Indians are loudly asking why the MFN status is still maintained for Pakistan. Pakistani actors and artists have been sent back. All cultural and sporting ties are being severed. Peaceniks on Indian side are being sidelined and ridiculed. Useful idiots in India have been silenced or shouted down.
So before the strike, that may seem like a knee-jerk reaction to many, was an all thought out operation. Even if countries like USA and China don’t openly acknowledge Pakistan’s indiscretions, the rest of the world has started looking at Pakistan as a regional bully. It is being seen as a brat who constantly causes trouble and then constantly complains about not being allowed to cause trouble. Pakistan has gone to the United Nationss with a complaint that India has violated the LOC while claiming at the same time that no such violation has taken place — it shows how confused these chaps become when someone actually decides to retaliate.
India has never taken an initiative of such scale and this is why Pakistanis had started thinking that no matter what they did, India would never go beyond “kadi ninda”.
With the surgical strikes, India has set a precedence. Mount a terrorist attack, and there is going to be a retaliation. No running to America. No running to the United Nations. There is going to be a price to pay. The free meals are gone. Playing victim is not going to work. Holier than thou attitude is not going to work. Planting useful idiots is not going to pay dividends. One-sided proxy war is a thing of the past. Above all, nuclear threat is not going to work. For all the nuclear bravado, it might be that India starts issuing nuclear threats rather than Pakistan because to be frank, it has carried out testing of its nuclear weapons whereas Pakistan hasn’t; it just purchased the technology.
Such “surgical strikes” are going to be effective only if they are carried out with a precise regularity. Pakistan doesn’t have just few terror camps running across the LOC. It has hundreds of them. In fact, now Pakistan may increase its terror activities just to show that such surgical strikes have no impact on terror. If terror activities are halted it would mean that the surgical strike was effective and this is something Pakistan wouldn’t like to happen. For long it has been stressing upon the point that terrorism is India’s internal problem and Pakistan has got nothing to do with it. After the strike, if terror activities, it will be a direct proof that Pakistan was causing mischief from across the border. So just to prove that the premise of the strikes is faulty Pakistan is going to increase its activities. So there will need to be more strikes not just to deliver the message, but also as tactical damage to stunt such misadventures.