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How Modi broke India's 'restraint' with 'surgical strikes'

  • Even before the Uri attacks, India has been on the offensive against Pakistan.
  • It has time and again rather startled its closest neighbour.
  • The most fitting blow came in the form of an attack carried out by Indian army inside PoK.
How Modi broke India restraint with surgical strikes

Shimon Peres is dead. But the “Peres doctrine” assumes great significance in the world we inhabit today, particularly in context of the last month and a half of Indo-Pakistan relations.


Summer of discontent in the Kashmir valley, which has been going through a record 83 days of shutdown following the killing of a self-styled Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani who had assumed ‘azadi’ poster boy appeal.  


Mass protests literally rocked the state with people attacking with stones at security forces using the now infamous pellet guns that caused serious injuries to more than 1500 people and causing death to 10. 


India had no answer to the protests and the Northern Army Commander conceded that every stakeholder must step back and rethink of how to get out of this impasse. India blamed Pakistan for fuelling the protest while Pakistan announced they would internationalise India’s human right violation in Kashmir. 


Within Pakistan, terrorist leaders like Hafiz Sayeed openly set up camps seeking donations and support to back the movement in Kashmir. Pakistan’s involvement in the valley’s unrest was more than obvious.


In the midst of these protests on 15th August Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi dropped the "B” bomb questioning Pakistan’s alleged human right violations in Balochistan. That rattled its neighbour who increasingly faces the problem of convincing the world of virtually anything. Baloch separatists welcomed Indian support and Modi’s salvo was being called a foreign policy “game changer”.


On September 18, 18 Indian soldiers were killed in a suicide attack in an Indian Army installation close to the Line of Control.The perpetrators allegedly came from Pakistan. India launched a massive diplomatic counter-attack to shame Pakistan for being a terrorist state. Even before the attack, Nawaz Sharif had publicised that he will raise Kashmir and what Pakistan calls violation of human rights at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).


Pakistan had already asked all its diplomats posted in other countries to raise the issue in their respective missions.A major section of Indian media had already launched its nuclear arsenal and war mongering dominated the social media space.


On September 22, Nawaz Sharif delivered his speech at the UNGA and predictably spent his time crying over Kashmir rather than talk about his own country. He referred to the Hizbul commander as a “young leader”. The speech failed to make any headlines internationally and India mocked at it. 


As an immediate counter attack, Indian diplomat and envoy to UN,EenamGhambir rebutted Sharif’s accusations calling it a “tirade” and sharply nailed Pakistan and its linkages to terrorist groups and leaders. It set the stage for Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj to take the stage at UNGA. 


Before Swaraj delivered her speech, the Indian Prime Minister made one of the strongest cases against Pakistan in his address to BJP workers at Kozhikode, Kerala. His was a speech written to impress the world and strategic community and assuage the high emotions at home (though the war mongers who are his disciples were at a loss for words because their leader made clear there is no war happening).


In stating that India’s strategic goal is to be a nation “free from poverty, full of prosperity”, and that this objective is linked to “peace and good thoughts”, the Prime Minister made it clear that war isn’t on his agenda. Referring to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s, “1000 year war" comment, he called upon Pakistan to wage war against poverty, turning the table in every sense.


Modi was real and well advised in not whipping up fake nationalism (that his party practices to perfection) but rested his case in stating that India has to choose between growth and a few blows because one cannot choose one’s neighbour. He had a veiled threat though.

Finally, Swaraj spoke in measured but firm tone, invoking history and India’s overtures to Pakistan including Modi stopping over for Nawaz Sharif’s birthday. She challenged the UN when she said, “we will be judged by our action and equally by our inaction”. However, she ended on a high note with a quotable quote, “The 21st century has begun in the shadow of turmoil, but we can turn this into a golden age in the history of civilisation through united and concerted efforts. But what happens tomorrow will depend on what we do today.”


This was followed by India withdrawing from the SAARC summit and Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan joining India in boycotting Pakistan. Finally, Nepal had to call off the summit. 


September 29, however, began with a dramatic announcement by the Indian Army claiming surgical strikes. Much of the day was spent deciphering what this meant and what it entailed? Did India enter Pakistani territory or POK, which India claims is Indian territory. Whatever it be, the psychological advantage that India gained was significant.


There may not be evidence of the strike and it is unlikely Pakistan will escalate but Prime Minister Modi has won this round with a thumping diplomatic advantage, breaking free of the “strategic restraint” policy of his predecessors, appeasing his domestic constituency and a blustering media and raised the morale of the army.


He has managed to walk the talk but while he can afford to show off a little, he must hope that Pakistan doesn’t get on the escalation ladder anytime soon. Oh, he shouldn’t forget that the situation in Kashmir hasn’t been resolved yet !


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