Exactly a week back, on the day (29th Sep 16, Thursday) when our DGMO declared to a euphoric nation the fact of the Indian Army conducting what he called as “tactical surgical strikes to neutralise terrorists who were ready to sneak into our country and attack us”, I penned a piece titled: ‘Cross-LOC Surgical Counter-Terrorism Strikes, A New Indian Psyche And Resolve?’ .
The news headlines were all about ‘India STRIKES’ and ‘India Retaliates’ and so on. We felt proud of our army and the government for having given a befitting response to Pakistan for relentlessly waging a proxy-war against India.
I myself went on record saying that perhaps we have learnt a lesson 825 years after Prithviraj Chauhan refused to learn it in 1191 after winning the First Battle of Tarain against Mohammad Ghori. Little did I and like-minded people know that we Indians are adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
I am painfully aware of how we are used to putting our foot in our mouth viz-a-viz our neighbour (Please read: ‘Indians Poor In Record-Keeping; Armed Forces No Exception’). However, what made me call it a seminal change in Indian psyche was the fact that unlike the neighbouring rajahs of Prithviraj Chauhan in 1192, the opposition in the immediate aftermath of the declaration of surgical strikes stood resolutely behind the army and the government.
Presently (just a week later), if you google ‘Surgical Strikes by India’, you are likely to run into headlines such as ‘India fails to sell surgical strikes’ and ‘Surgical farce blows up in India’s face’.
Lets look at the events as the aftermath of our spectacular declaration on 29th Sep and see what went wrong.
- The Uri attack takes place on 18th Sep 16 (19 soldiers die) and the opposition (they take the moniker very seriously and feel duty-bound to oppose everything that the government does) takes the government to the mat for “inaction”. The opposition reminds the PM, Shri Narendra Modi that whilst in opposition he roared like a lion and immediately after the Uri attack, he is silent about any retaliatory strikes.
- So the government, after ten days of Uri attack, allows a tactical military response and the military declares it in so many words; nothing more, nothing less. The opposition, sensing the mood of the country supports it “whole-heartedly”.
- Both parties go to sleep and wake up the next day with changed feelings (or unchanged feelings of ‘back to politics; thank you military for that small distraction‘).
- The government supporters see in this tactical military response an opportunity to lionise the PM for an unprecedented slap in the face of Pakistan (indeed a large number of cartoons with PM’s hand imprinted on the face of Pakistan do the rounds on the social media. The government supporters’ response is largely understood for taking credit for a purely tactical military response. After-all the government is the one that permitted this response and allowed it to be announced. Purely military analysts have brought out that the government permitting the strike to go through and announcing it to the world were even more damaging to our friends across the border than the strikes themselves. However, the opposition’s response is ludicrous to say the least:
a. “We supported it ‘whole-heartedly’ without ever seeing the proof”. Ha!Ha! What was the compulsion to support it?
b. “We ourselves conducted many cross-LOC surgical strikes but never pom-pomed these as great achievements”!
c. “And now that we see the damage being done to our chances in UP elections, we demand to see the proof of these strikes”.
- I am really not amazed by the level of debate and discussion of the ‘uninformed‘. I am really amazed at the levels to which the so called ‘informed‘ have gone, such as:
a. “A purely military ‘strategy’ to sort out India-Pak problem is bound to fail” (Ha! Ha! Who told them that ‘surgical strikes’ are a ‘strategy’? But, I guess they have their pet argument and lose no opportunity to air it even if it is not an appropriate one, given the circumstances. The circumstances are that the DGMO not just declared these as tactical response but reiterated that we have no intent to convert this into a strategy. He insisted, on the other hand that we don’t have plans to continue these strikes in future.
b. “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. We should be prepared for retaliation”. This is another pet response, which takes for granted that after conducting the strikes we were likely to rejoice until struck by them.
- The fact of the matter is that:
a. We have the fifth largest army in the world and it has an openly declared ‘military strategy‘ of avoiding war by deterrence.
b. Continued incidents like Pathankot and Uri bring out that this deterrence is not being taken seriously and circumvented by proxy war.
c. We conduct a ‘tactical‘ strike to reassert this deterrence.
d. Political signaling either adds or subtracts from such strategic deterrence. The kind of signaling that we have let out in the aftermath of the strikes has, I am afraid, further weakened the deterrence; how can you take a nation seriously whose leaders convert everything into electoral issue and are not above playing with the pride of the nation for electoral gains? You can imagine the damage caused by this signaling by taking into account that one of the opposition (Kejriwal) is now a national hero in Pakistan!
e. If you then conclude that we are ‘self-sufficient nation‘ and have our own ‘indigenous enemy‘ rather than depending upon the enemy across the border to roger us, we are not too far off the mark.
f. And to think that we are a nuclear nation. Most (if not all) of nuclear deterrence actually revolves around ‘signaling’.
So when the opposition and the ‘informed‘ think-tanks and so called strategists make a mockery of Indian Army’s well-conceived and well-executed surgical strikes, it is not a victory for them; it is our collective defeat as a nation. Lets get back to expecting more proxy-war attacks from them, more killings of innocents, and bemoan as a nation and ask the US or Nawaz Sharif to rein in Pak Army, and gather signatures to declare Pak a terror-sponsor (as if our experience teaches us – and please permit me to use strong words for once – that the moment we call a whore a whore, she immediately stops whoring!)
As if political wrangling over the surgical strikes is not enough, we have any number of these peaceniks who recommend the Gandhian philosophy of offering the other cheek too if someone slaps us on one. These are the worthies who openly declare that soldiers are meant to die since they are paid to do so and they (the soldiers) wilfully chose the profession of arms (no one forced them).
It must be very lonely being a soldier in our country. He fights his own battles and wars.
Jai Hind Ki Sena
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