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Thursday, 13 October 2016
REAL SIGNIFICANCE SURGICAL STRIKES
October 13, 2016, 10:56 PM IST SD Pradhan
Unnecessary political debate over the surgical strike at the launch pads in PoK on 29th September 2016 to neutralise the terrorists who had assembled there to infiltrate under the direction of the Pak Army has completely eclipsed the factors that compelled India to change its approach towards Pakistan. Unfortunately, the Opposition leaders in order to see that the current ruling dispensation does not get any advantage from this, have spoken the words which are only music to the Pak leaders and terrorists. This only reflects the immaturity of the opposition leaders. It was a sad thing that not only the Vice President of Congress used unpalatable words but also harmed India’s security interests and undermined India’s image internationally. Congress supported persons even went to the extent of equating ambushes with surgical strikes. Ambushes were common along the LoC as was brought out by the Kargil Review Committee. Equating ambushes and skirmishes of the past with recent surgical strike was the result of lack of understanding about the differences between the two.
One cannot blame Rahul Gandhi for his lack of knowledge about the factors which determine the security policies and formulation of grand strategy which includes military strategy, economic strategy, diplomatic strategy and strategy to use unconventional means but his tutors should have been able to see the evolution of the India’s new approach in proper perspective. Instead of correcting what was uttered by the Vice President of Congress party, one former minister crossed all the limits of decency and ignored national interests while trying to justify his words. It was all the more shocking that the person was a lawyer who must have read legal books noting differences between state policy and tactical action taken to deal with immediate threats. It was appalling to note that one leader from that party in Pakistan had asked the Pakistanis to help in removing the current regime to improve the relation with Pakistan. According to him the only aim of the foreign policy is to improve relations with the rogue country which is supporting terrorism ignoring national interests. Various thinkers have pointed out that there are no permanent friends or foes, what is perennial is the national interest. That party has to internalise this.
As compared to India’s opposition leaders, the Pakistani leaders strongly supported the line of the Pak Army. Several leaders like Musharraf, Javed Miandad and Imran Khan etc. vocally supported the Pak Army. In the US, none spoke against the US policies after the 9/11 attacks. None spoke in favour of terrorists. None supported Osama bin Laden or Al Qaeda. None blamed even the US wrong policies which were, in fact, responsible for supporting a rogue nation despite evidence against that country’s support to terrorists. Our opposition leaders should learn from them. Instead of criticising the current efforts, they should highlight that their ‘policy of friendship’ at any cost after 26/11 at the Sharm el Sheikh’ did not pay any dividend and was an ill-conceived move just after eight months of 26/11 and now India is forced to change its approach as past efforts did not yield the desired results. It is still baffling why the then PM gave a clean chit to Pakistan at that meet and more horrifying was the aspect of agreement to discuss insurgency in Baluchistan as if India was responsible for problems there. The then Foreign Secretary’s statement that the draft was not well drafted does not justify the act.
In essence, India has been compelled to change its approach towards Pakistan. After witnessing increasing number of attacks launched by Pakistan’s unofficial army i.e. terrorists trained and supported by Pak Army and ISI on Indian security forces and trying various strategies to improve relations with Pakistan (which attracted severe criticism for lack of consistency and firmness) and to deter Pak Army to stop its policy of bleeding India through a thousand cuts, India has now evolved a well calibrated grand strategy aimed at compelling Pakistan to change its approach. This grand strategy includes several strategies like military, diplomatic, economic and water. This surgical strike was not merely a tactical operation like the past actions even if someone intends to equate the previous action with the recent one. This surgical strike was notable for three aspects. First, for the first time, seven launch pads were simultaneously attacked. Second, several terrorists were eliminated without loss on our side and it was a successful operation. Third, it was not merely one-off tactical move but was a part of a grand strategy.
This operation was the most visible aspect of the Indian grand strategy which reflected that India was changing its previous approach towards Pakistan that was marked by crippling indecision and inaction. India decided to neutralise terrorists not as a one-off tactical operation but as a part of a grand strategy aimed at compelling Pakistan to abandon its policy of using terrorism against India. It was also publicised unlike in the past to convey a strong message to Pakistan. Its other dimensions were equally important. India noting that people in PoK, Gilgit and Baltistan and in Baluchistan were in a miserable situation, decided to bring their depressed plight before the International Community – a recommendation made by several experts in the past but failed to convince the then policy makers who were still trying ‘friendship at any cost policy’. This was aimed to ensure that the International Community pressurises Pakistan on the issue of violation of human rights in these regions. Alongside India also made assiduous efforts to diplomatically isolate Pakistan on the issue of sponsoring terrorism. SAARC Summit’s cancellation indicated the growing concern of these nations about the Pak support to terrorism. India also considered changing the MNF status of Pakistan as a part of economic strategy aimed at putting economic pressure. India is also considering of making some changes in the Indus Water Treaty which is highly favourable to Pakistan. While these efforts may not be sufficient to compel Pakistan to abandon its policy, it is the beginning. The support of several countries on the issue of surgical strike is indicative of growing concern about Pakistan’s linkages with terrorists. However pragmatism demands that India keeps in view the limits of its diplomatic efforts given the geopolitical importance of Pakistan, its Islamic weight and its influence in Afghanistan and Central Asia. India has to use more unconventional and conventional means to put compel Pakistan to change its policy of using terrorism as a state instrument to deal with India