Sur­gi­cal Strikes A Mes­sage To Pak­istan: In­dian Army Experts

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In­dian Army’s “sur­gi­cal strikes” on ter­ror­ist launch pads across the Line of Con­trol (LoC)has sent a mes­sage to Pak­istan to not take In­dia for granted, se­cu­rity experts said on Thurs­day, and noted that there may not be es­ca­la­tion in the sit­u­a­tion as Is­lam­abad has de­nied there was any such mil­i­tary ac­tion. The cross-bor­der strikes were car­ried out on Wed­nes­day night in re­tal­i­a­tion for Pak­istan-backed ter­ror­ist ac­tion on In­dian soil, the Army said. De­fence sources said seven ter­ror launch pads across the LoC were de­stroyed by spe­cial forces of the In­dian Army on the in­ter­ven­ing night of Septem­ber 28 and 29 in a nearly five-hour-long op­er­a­tion dur­ing which he­li­borne and ground forces were de­ployed. The sources said the launch pads in PoK were in the range of 2 to 3km from the LoC and were un­der sur­veil­lance for over one week while Union Min­is­ter Venka­iah Naidu said the strikes tar­geted five to six places across the LoC along Kup­wara and Poonch in Jammu and Kash­mir. Mr Naidu said there was no ca­su­alty on the In­dian side.

The Pak­istani mil­i­tary, how­ever, said there were no such strikes by In­dia, and “in­stead there had been cross-bor­der fire ini­ti­ated and con­ducted by In­dia which is ex­is­ten­tial phe­nom­e­non.” The Army ac­tion came 11 days af­ter the ter­ror at­tack in Uri that killed 18 soldiers Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi had said that those be­hind the Uri at­tacks will not go un­pun­ished.

Since then, there have been a se­ries of toplevel meet­ings to firm up govern­ment’s multi-pronged re­sponse. In­dia has blamed the Uri ter­ror at­tack on mil­i­tants from Pak­istan. For­mer Army Chief Ge­nen­ral VP Ma­lik said that In­dian Army’s mil­i­tary ac­tion was not against Pak­istan or the Pak­istani Army but on ter­ror­ist launch pads. “While In­dia is not in­ter­ested in the whole sit­u­a­tion es­ca­lat­ing but if Pak­istan does some­thing, we will have to be pre­pared,” Gen Ma­lik said. The gen­eral, who was the Army chief dur­ing the Kargil war, hailed the “first-ever” cal­i­brated sur­gi­cal strike by the Army. “Chances of es­ca­la­tion may be min­i­mal but in such a sit­u­a­tion, you can­not rule (that) out. I don’t think it is in In­dia’s in­ter­ests to see an es­ca­la­tion but if Pak­istan wants it then In­dia will have to be pre­pared,” he added.

Uday Bhaskar, se­cu­rity an­a­lyst and di­rec­tor, So­ci­ety for Pol­icy Stud­ies, said the sur­gi­cal strike against the ter­ror­ist camps an­nounced by the Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral of Mil­i­tary Op­er­a­tions (DGMO), Lt Gen Ran­bir Singh, has con­firmed what had been an­tic­i­pated over the last few days - namely that the Modi team would ‘re­spond’ in an ap­pro­pri­ate man­ner to the enor­mity of the Uri ter­ror at­tack. “Two as­pects merit no­tice. In­dia has con­firmed that the at­tack was against ter­ror in­fra­struc­ture along the Line of Con­trol (LoC) - and that the ob­jec­tive had been re­alised. It was fur­ther added by the In­dian DGMO that he had in­formed his Pak­istani coun­ter­part,” Mr Bhaskar said. “With this two mes­sages have been con­veyed. One, In­dia does not wish to es­ca­late the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion and the tar­get was ter­ror - and not the ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity or sovereignty of Pak­istan. Two, the onus for re­straint or es­ca­la­tion is now on Rawalpindi - the GHQ of the Pak­istan mil­i­tary,” he added. Mr Bhaskar said that the do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal mes­sage is clear. “PM Modi is in­deed com­mit­ted to de­fend In­dia’s se­cu­rity in­ter­ests - and will take firm ac­tion when re­quired - as promised dur­ing his elec­tion cam­paign. How­ever, what needs to be tracked now is the re­sponse from Pak­istan and the sub-con­ti­nen­tal tra­jec­tory that the post sur­gi­cal strike days will fol­low,” he said. A for­mer govern­ment se­cu­rity of­fi­cial, who did not want to be named, said that Pak­istan has re­duced its op­tions by deny­ing the In­dian mil­i­tary ac­tion.

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