The Pakistani leadership, ISI officials as well as terrorists did not visualise that Indian forces would cross the Line of Control. They thought that it would business as usual. It’s a wake-up call for them
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who won the 2014 Lok Sabha election on the agenda of economic development, initially made all-out efforts to inculcate cordial relations with all neighbours, especially Pakistan. He invited heads of all South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) nations for his oath-taking ceremony and also paid a surprise visit to Lahore on Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s birthday.
India took no action against Pakistan even when the military-controlled Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)-backed terrorists attacked the Air Force base in Pathankot earlier this year. India provided conclusive evidence to Pakistan and requested it to act against the persons who trained and sent the terrorists. Pakistan sent a few more terrorists who attacked an Indian Army base at Uri in September, in which 19 Army personnel were martyred and more than 30 injured.
Besides these attacks, Pakistan was incessantly infiltrating terrorists, including suicide bombers, in Kashmir. ISI-funded separatist organisations and leaders made a big issue when security forces killed Burhan Muzzaffar Wani, self-confessed commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, in July. The violent demonstrations, protests and strikes organised by separatist outfits has continued for months, many people have lost their lives and several more injured.
Not only this, Pakistani political leaders as well as General Raheel Sharif have been constantly seeking to intimidate India. Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, in an interview, threatened that Pakistan hadn’t made the nuclear bomb to keep in a showcase and that it would “eliminate India” through nuclear weapons in case of a war. Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff mentioned that “Kashmir is an unfinished agenda” of 1947.
The Pakistani leaders were indulging in anti-India rhetoric, thinking that the political situation in India would not permit Indian forces to cross the borders. Nonetheless, the Modi Government took a bold decision and Indian forces conducted surgical strikes in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) on September 29. In the surgical strike, which occurred within a fortnight of the ISI-sponsored terrorist attack in Uri, Indian Armed Forces penetrated five to seven kilometres in PoK and destroyed at least four terror launch pads and killed more than 40 terrorists and their guides. About nine Pakistan Army personnel, who were the trainers and handlers of the slain terrorists, were also neutralised.
The Pakistani leadership, ISI officials as well as terrorists did not visualise that Indian forces would cross the Line of Control (LoC). Later Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif termed it as “unprovoked and naked aggression”, while the Pakistan Army blatantly lied and stated that Indian forces had not crossed the LoC.
Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt General Ranbir Singh very intelligently, clarified at a Press conference that the surgical strikes were not against the Pakistan Army but against militants who wanted to enter India with the ulterior motive of carrying out terrorist attacks here.
The ISI has increased infiltration efforts in J&K because crossing the border would be difficult once winter sets in. Also, the agitation in Kashmir is declining and anti-agitation sentiments are developing. The people of Kashmir have begun realising that such agitations and demonstrations have destroyed the economy of the State. The ISI is planning to carry out major terrorist activity in response to the surgical strikes by India. According to intelligence reports, more than 125 terrorists of Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and other similar outfits have already entered the State this year. Several of them have been already exterminated in various encounters.
The Pakistan Army, which propagates itself as a saviour of its country, will not stop sending terrorists unless it finds that there is danger to their existence and Indian forces would enter not only PoK, which incidentally is Indian territory and illegally occoupied by Pakistan, but even other places in that country in hot pursuit.
The morale of the Indian Army and the paramilitary forces is high, as the local commanders are empowered to retaliate strongly against infiltration attempts as well as against cross-border firings. The Indian security forces have killed enemy forces as well as foiled several infiltration attempts supported by the ISI and Pakistan Rangers. Important leaders of Pakistani terrorist outfits had to visit terrorist camps as well as border areas to persuade terrorists to cross the border as several jihadis were reluctant to enter India as they were afraid of being killed while crossing the border.
The stringent policy formulated by the Modi Government in Kashmir is giving results. Local Kashmiris are secretly providing information to security agencies about the hideouts of terrorists. The security agencies are conducting joint search operations and suspects.
The Modi Government is working on a two-pronged strategy against Pakistan. The security agencies have intensified vigil on the border, and on the other hand New Delhi is isolating Pakistan in the world arena. Indian policymakers do not want a full-scale war but they are retaliating in such a way that the cost of spreading terror is increasing for Pakistan.
No country criticised India for the surgical strikes. Pakistan sent 22 of its Members of Parliament to different world capitals to promote the Pakistani viewpoint about Kashmir, but they returned empty-handed, as most countries told them to control the terrorists operating from their soil. The lecturing by Nawaz Sharif at the United Nations on Kashmir in September was ineffective and UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-moon did not even mention Kashmir in his concluding speech. Pakistan was compelled to postpone the Saarc summit as several countries refused to attend. This, if anything, was a clear indication of the global isolation of Pakistan.
Further, in the recent summit of The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec), the member countries clearly let their displeasure known about Pakistan for assisting terrorism. Earlier, Prime Minister Modi had spoken emphatically on terrorism at the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Goa. Although the names of terror outfits based in Pakistan could not be named in the final communiqué, largely due to China’s objections and Russia playing along, the message was clear to Islamabad that it was being branded as a state sponsor of terrorism.
By Jai Kumar Verma
(The writer is member, United Services Institute of India, and associated with the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses)
Courtesy: The Pioneer