The politically motivated post-mortem of the ‘surgical strikes’ of September 29 are enough to make all sensible Indians queasy. Looking at the way politicians and their supporters on both sides of the political and ideological divide have tried to milk this incident on TV and the social media has made me want to puke.
As somebody said recently, soldiers prepared to give their lives in battle, don’t expect to be murdered in their sleep during peace time. When ‘terrorists’ killed sleeping soldiers at Uri on September 18, it was a dark, dastardly, and dishonourable deed. It was a provocation that the Indian Army could not ignore.
The Indian response was not a knee –jerk reaction. By all accounts, it was a well planned, cleanly executed operation across the line of control that ‘took out’ certain non-state ‘actors’, and sent out a clear message that India isn’t in the mood of being a ‘soft state’.
And, as for all this brouhaha about ‘releasing video tapes’ of the operation; to parody one infamous bellicose TV anchor, in the interest of National security, India doesn’t need to know, not right now, anyway. It’s disgraceful the way the politicians want to turn military strategy into a ‘vote getting’ tool.
Prime Minister Modi has played his cards well. The response to the Uri incident on September 18 was neither ‘sabre rattling’, nor a diplomatic ‘slap on the wrist’. It was a calculated response that punctured a whole lot of myths. One fear was that since Pakistan is a nuclear nation, and a pretty unstable-looking one at that, any action across the border would probably result in a savage war. So, in a way, the previous regimes were wary of publicising the little border skirmishes. India, says one commentator, becomes paralysed after such attacks, because it bought into the myth.
Just after the Uri incident, India opened up a whole range of issues. Modi let it be known that India could re-think its sharing of the Indus waters, envision a SAARC without Pakistan, and would tear up Pakistan’s most-favoured nation status. The message was clear: India would not take things lying down. And while the Pakistan establishment were trying to formulate their responses to these rather strong non-military responses, India eliminated certain Pakistan protected non-state actors.
The world held its breath. Would this escalate into an all out war? This was where Prime Minister Modi’s speech at Kozhikode came into play, one that sought to de-escalate the conflict. Pakistan chose to de-escalate the conflict by denying that the surgical strikes took place. It behaved rationally. It did not retaliate and let things escalate into war.
Now to the likes of Arnab Goswami, the Modi-bhakts, Kejriwal, and some misbegotten members of the Congress, I would say shut up and sit down. We don’t need your shallow political name-calling and petty point scoring. India has done the right thing by not making the videos public. The Pakistan government needs a fig leaf, because its weakness has become embarrassingly exposed. The Pakistan strategists are busy wiping egg off their face over the Islamabad Summit that is not going to happen.
Of course, it is game on and Pakistan will have a long hard think and plan its next move, and it won’t be too far away. But shouting ‘Har har Modi’ or ‘Hai hai Modi’ is childish and petty. Arnab Goswami and his ilk should realize that international relations is a game of chess, played slowly and quietly, not a boisterous game of caroms played in an alleyway.