WEB DESK: Did they or didn’t they do it? The questions first started to be asked in Pakistan, and gradually in India too after last Wednesday night’s purported ‘surgical strike’ in Azad Kashmir by Indian army soldiers destroying “seven terror launch pads.”
The Indian media, especially TV channels, were absolutely sure that it was a surgical strike, though most of them had not bothered to find out what kind of action carries such a frightful appellation (for the enemy, of course). They had different versions to give – all with great certainty. Helicopters figured in several accounts though with variations, some claiming they dropped commandos on the Pakistani side of the LoC and returned, and others saying they were flown near the LoC from where they crawled over to the other side, and within less than five hours’ time eliminated seven ‘terror launch pads’ before safely returning to their base. Still others proclaimed it was a cross-border raid.
One wonders why could they not co-ordinate the story and make things easier for ordinary folks to fathom. For there are too many questions creating confusion. Defence experts on this side have tirelessly been defining surgical strike, pointing out that an air element is needed to carry commandos to and from a quick ‘surgical operation’. Going by Indian media warriors’ accounts, helicopters may or may not have crossed the LoC, even if they did, they didn’t wait for the commandos to do their job and give them a ride back home. The strike failed at least on that standard. But something did happen; after all, two Pakistan soldiers were killed on that night. What was it? Cross-border shelling, according to ISPR.
Which goes on every now and then, with an increased frequency ever since Mr Modi came to power. A cross-border raid is more likely considering the two Pakistani casualties. Such a raid is not without precedent, though it didn’t go very well for the raiders. Then there is also the curious thing that some 38 occupants of the ‘terror launch pads’ the Indian DGMO claimed to have eliminated let themselves to be killed quietly. And according to New Delhi, all the surgical strikers came back untouched and unhurt, while the Pakistan Army soldiers stayed sound asleep.
Then there is the fact that Pakistan has in its custody an Indian soldier, who Delhi says blundered across the Loc, which is not something unusual. In fact, there exists a formal mechanism to exchange such blundering wanderers. But the timing, again, is significant. Meanwhile, the UN Observer Group, UNMOIGP, in Kashmir has said it has “not directly observed any firing across the LoC related to the latest incident.”
A particularly interesting part of the story is a photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi sitting in his Situation Room – just like his new friend, US President Obama, was pictured alongside his top aides, military and intelligence officials watching in real time Navy Seals conduct the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad – viewing the ‘surgical strike’ inside Pakistani side of Kashmir.
If it was a real happening, surely Modi’s men have a video footage of it. Releasing it can easily end the controversy surrounding the ‘strike’ and shut up critics, of which there is a growing number in India as well. Hiding behind the excuse that doing so could compromise security does not help, for all they need to show are the “terror launch pads” and 38 fighters becoming dead bodies. Let Modi’s office show the footage to silence the doubters in his own country.
The question remains, why did he do it? One answer is that he needed to draw the world attention away from grave human rights violations in the Valley. Indeed, the UN Secretary-General and the chief of UN Human Rights Council have been expressing concern over the situation, and the latter has wanted to send in fact-finding missions to Kashmir on either side of the LoC. Even so, bloody repression shouldn’t be of such a serious concern for Washington’s strategic partner. For civilised notions like human rights, justice, and morality apply either to weaker or rival nations.
The big countries, like the US, can launch military adventures wherever they want, such as in Afghanistan back in the 1980s through the ‘mujahedeen’ cross-border infiltration using Pakistani soil or resort to direct invasions- Afghanistan and Iraq. For the past five years they have been sending well-trained and armed ‘moderate opposition fighters’ into Syria to oust an allegedly ‘illegitimate’ government, which is as lawful or unlawful as any other Western-backed regime in the region. But smaller countries cannot provide support to legitimate freedom movements such as the one in Kashmir – even though the Kashmiris draw their right of independence from UN resolutions-or the one in occupied Palestine.
No wonder the US State Department has termed the recent Kashmiri resistance fighters’ attack on Indian soldiers – who are killing their people – at the Uri military camp as terrorism. In plain words, the world is still ruled by the ‘might is right’ law of the jungle. Considering the atmosphere, Modi doesn’t need to worry about anything, though his Western friends wouldn’t like to see things spin out of control under a nuclear overhang, hence the advice to cool off.
His recent chest-thumping claims of punishing Pakistan are believed to be aimed at impressing his Hindu fundamentalist base to secure success in the upcoming state elections in UP, Punjab and Goa, where he faces serious challenges from Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party and Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party. But Modi is also a man on a mission. He still pays allegiance to his alma mater, the Hindu fundamentalist outfit, RSS, one of whose declared aims is to avenge real or perceived oppression of Hindus by Muslim invaders. That is wherefrom comes his anti-Muslim hatred – which urged him to preside as Gujarat chief minister over the 2002 massacre of some 2000 Muslims – and his stated desire to “teach Pakistan a lesson” and to isolate the country.
His vitriolic outpourings against Pakistan following the Uri incident have spurred the country’s media to whip up war hysteria. There surely is no dearth in that country of sane people. They are asking him all kinds of questions, including proof of the ‘surgical strike’. Whatever the truth, perpetual confrontation is in neither country’s interest. Given his track record Modi is not expected to control the Pakistan hate streak in him. That though should not stop Islamabad from keeping the doors open to negotiations for a peaceful co-existence.
Source: Business Recorder