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The bogus ‘strategic restraint’ in dealing with Pakistan has been done away. It had never yielded results for India and it would never have. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Government realised it sooner than later, and this will prove to be good for the country. The fact is that ‘strategic restraint’ was a mindset of weakness cloaked in the garb of ‘responsible policy’. No self-respecting nation in the world fails to act against those who perpetrate terror on its soil. Neither the United States of America nor Israel nor France takes terror strikes lying down. Their response has been swift and massive, whether it is to do with internal crackdowns or external targeting. India had been the only military power which endured all the terror-pounding from neighbouring Pakistan, responding with words but never with fearsome action.
This changed in the wee hours of Thursday, when Indian Armed Forces crossed the Line of Control and struck hard at more than half-a-dozen terror pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The number of militants and Pakistan Army personnel killed is not of significance as much as the mere act by India to pay back Pakistan in a language it understands. The threshold has been crossed, and it will be more willingly again if Islamabad insists on continuing to bleed India with a thousand cuts.
The surgical strike has silenced critics of Prime Minister Modi. They had accused him of soft-peddling, of having a 56-inch chest for show, of engaging in shawl-and-saree diplomacy with Pakistan – in general, of not having a coherent Pakistan policy. His speech at Kozhikode in Kerala days before the precision strike took place was panned by his political rivals as yet another hollow display of machoism. They had clearly misread him – just as they have been doing for months.
After the Government briefed various senior political leaders once the surgical attack was successfully achieved, they began to sing a different tune. This must be welcomed. Still, did they have any option but to commend the strike, praise the Armed Forces and grudgingly acknowledge the Modi’s regime decisiveness to call Pakistan’s bluff? The Janata Dal (United), not among Prime Minister Modi’s admirers, was actually more generous in its compliment to the Government than other opposition parties. The Congress was caught in a dilemma. Until yesterday it had been ridiculing the Prime Minister, but now had to do a turnaround. It found a face-saver by stating that it had been critical because of non-action; now that action had come, it was supportive. By the way, one wonders what Pakistan-apologists like Mani Shankar Aiyar and Digvijaya Singh have to say.
The world community’s response to India’s belligerence – perhaps decisiveness is a better word – is a testimony to the Modi Government’s success in global diplomacy. Not a single country has denounced the strike – even the response from China, the ‘all-weather friend’ of Pakistan, has been muted. On the other hand, those like Bangladesh have openly complimented India, saying it took the right step.
Crossing the Line of Control officially in a non-war situation is a paradigm shift in the Government’s policy towards Pakistan and towards anti-India terror groups on the other side of the border. Indian forces had crossed the LoC before – during Operation Parakram and after an Indian soldier were beheaded by Pakistani forces. But those acts were never officially acknowledged nor were they anywhere close to the depth of penetration seen in the latest case. The precision attack on Pakistan’s terror launch pads in the aftermath of the Uri tragedy may have been plotted clandestinely, but it was willingly acknowledged with pride by the Indian side this time around. The days of defensiveness at the cost of national pride are over.
The world community’s response to India’s belligerence – perhaps decisiveness is a better word – is a testimony to the Modi Government’s success in global diplomacy. Not a single country has denounced the strike – even the response from China, the ‘all-weather friend’ of Pakistan, has been muted. On the other hand, those like Bangladesh have openly complimented India, saying it took the right step. There are others like Afghanistan who will not be shedding tears over Islamabad’s plight. The US, which had been briefed by India about the strike like many other important countries were, was nuanced in its support for New Delhi, though more forthcoming when it said terror attacks like those of the Uri kind would elicit a response.
Much has already been written on how the Modi regime has crafted arguably the most successful foreign policy by an Indian Government in the last two decades. The near isolation of Pakistan globally is one instance of this achievement. Even Islamabad’s committed friends like Saudi Arabia have been less than supportive of Pakistan when it comes to the latter’s terror-sponsoring acts against India. Months ago, Saudi Arabia conferred its highest civilian award on Prime Minister Modi during his visit to the kingdom. This had riled Pakistan no end, though it could say anything openly, given that it is heavily dependent on Saudi aid to keep itself afloat. As for Islamabad’s regional isolation, what better proof than the Saarc fiasco, when four nations including India pulled out of the summit scheduled to be held in Pakistan in November?
Pakistan’s ring-fencing is as good as complete. What now remains for India is to sustain the momentum, continue to build strong connections with the world community by reaching out to nations bilaterally and multilaterally. The mullah-Army-civilian leadership nexus in Pakistan is taking that country down the drain. India should not intervene to check the downslide. If the people of Pakistan and the few sane elements within the democratic political system believe they are being cheated and misled by their rulers and religious influencers, they must rise in protest. If they do not have the courage to do so, they can pay the price of being members of a pariah state