In­dia Sets New Terms of En­gage­ment with ‘SUR­GI­CAL STRIKES’

India Strategic - - APPOINTMENTS - By Nilova Roy Chaud­hury

NEW DELHI. In­dia set out new terms of en­gage­ment with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity af­ter it con­ducted sur­gi­cal mil­i­tary strikes across the Line of Con­trol (LoC), or the de facto bor­der with Pak­istan, on Septem­ber 29.

In a diplo­matic mas­ter­stroke, New Delhi in­formed its in­ter­locu­tors that it had acted in self-de­fence, as each sov­er­eign na­tion must, to pro­tect its cit­i­zens and pre­vent ter­ror­ists from strik­ing against tar­gets in In­dia.

Launch­ing a diplo­matic out­reach im­me­di­ately af­ter it an­nounced the sur­gi­cal strikes against ter­ror­ist launch pads lo­cated in­side Pak­istan Oc­cu­pied Kash­mir (POK), In­dia said it had acted against spe­cific ter­ror­ist tar­gets and that its ac­tions were not against the state of Pak­istan. LOC marks the limit of the area that Pak­istan forcibly oc­cu­pied in 1948 in In­dia’s north­ern state.

There was no vi­o­la­tion of the In­ter­na­tional Bor­der (IB) be­tween the two coun­tries, which New Delhi em­pha­sised.

In­dia has been work­ing none­the­less to evolve a con­certed strat­egy that would in­flict se­vere da­m­age to Pak­istan, af­ter the at­tack on the army base camp at Uri. At­tempts to diplo­mat­i­cally, eco­nom­i­cally and a thor­ough re-look at the 56 year old In­dus Wa­ters Treaty have been among the vis­i­ble ef­forts made, while the army struck to call Pak­istan’s bluff in its pur­ported stance against ter­ror­ism.

Shortly af­ter the In­dian Army and the For­eign Min­istry jointly made the dis­clo­sure about the strikes across the LoC, In­dia’s For­eign Sec­re­tary Subrah­manyam Jais­hankar called in en­voys from 25 Mis­sions in Delhi and briefed them to con­vey the “con­text” in de­tail about the strikes, their ob­jec­tives and the con­text, MEA Spokesman Vikas Swarup said.

Among those whom the For­eign Sec­re­tary met with on Septem­ber 29 were the Am­bas­sadors of the P-5, or five per­ma­nent mem­bers of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, Bri­tain, China, France, Rus­sia and the United States. He also briefed the en­voys of the neigh­bour­hood coun­tries, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myan­mar and Sri Lanka. Also among those in­vited by the For­eign Sec­re­tary were the en­voys of Aus­tralia, Brazil, South Africa, Ger­many, Iran, Is­rael, In­done­sia, Ja­pan, Mau­ri­tius, Oman, Saudi Ara­bia, Sin­ga­pore, South Korea, UAE and Viet­nam.

In­dia shares a strate­gic part­ner­ship with all of the coun­tries in­vited for the For­eign Sec­re­tary’s brief­ing, sources in­formed In­dia Strate­gic. Sub­se­quently, In­dia Strate­gic has learned that three other sec­re­taries in the

Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­istry called in en­voys from other strate­gic part­ner coun­tries un­der their ju­ris­dic­tion, in­clud­ing Canada, Kaza­khstan, Thai­land, Mon­go­lia, Nige­ria and also the Euro­pean Union and ASEAN mis­sion heads.

With that, it ap­peared that In­dia had ef­fec­tively man­aged a diplo­matic en­cir­clement of Pak­istan, with even Is­lam­abad’s tra­di­tional al­lies like China and Saudi Ara­bia re­fus­ing to side with it or to chas­tise In­dia for breach­ing the LoC. In any case, Is­lam­abad has taken the stand that there were no strikes.

Given the flurry of diplo­matic ac­tiv­ity be­fore and af­ter the strikes - with the P-5, with Arab states such as Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates (UAE) and Qatar, and other Is­lamic coun­tries from Turkey to Malaysia, the ab­sence of any ob­jec­tion to what In­dia did would in­di­cate that In­dia’s bat­tle against ter­ror has reached a new nor­mal.

No­tably, while the Gulf coun­tries have sup­ported Pak­istan at one time or an­other, they are clear about their op­po­si­tion to ter­ror­ism. The UAE, in fact, stated as early

Left page: Dr. S. Jais­hankar, For­eign Sec­re­tary top: CCS meet­ing in progress

as 1992, that re­li­gious fun­da­men­tal­ism and ter­ror­ism have no place in Is­lam.

No­tably again, Pak­istan is bound, un­der manda­tory United Na­tions Chap­ter 7 guide­lines, to sup­port ac­tion against ter­ror­ists; it is a dif­fer­ent mat­ter that it has be­come the foun­tain­head of this ugly phe­nom­e­non and de­nies ev­ery­thing it does. None­the­less, Is­lam­abad has been ad­vised by most coun­tries to join in against ter­ror­ism.

Su­san Rice, the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor of the US, spoke with In­dia’s NSA Ajit Do­val shortly be­fore the strikes against ter­ror­ist hide­outs in POK and strongly con­demned Pak­istan’s re­fusal to take out groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Haqqani Network.

Underlining the im­por­tance of its in­creas­ing close­ness with In­dia, Wash­ing­ton urged “ac­tions to com­bat and dele­git­imize ter­ror­ist groups like LeT, the Haqqani Network, Jaish-e-Mo­ham­mad.” In a brief­ing af­ter In­dia an­nounced its sur­gi­cal strikes, State De­part­ment Spokesman John Kirby, “We un­der­stand that the In­dian and Pak­istani mil­i­taries have been in com­mu­ni­ca­tion. We all know that ter­ror­ism, in many ways, knows no bor­der.”

He said Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry had been in touch with In­dian Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj and “con­demned ter­ror­ism in all its forms and he cau­tioned against any es­ca­la­tion in ten­sions,” Mr Kirby said.

Re­flect­ing the grow­ing global im­pa­tience with Pak­istan’s self-de­feat­ing stand on fight­ing ter­ror­ism,

Wash­ing­ton also chose the mo­ment to fo­cus on the new high in re­la­tions with In­dia, with De­fense Sec­re­tary Ash­ton Carter say­ing the mil­i­tary re­la­tion­ship was the “clos­est it has been ever”.

Coun­tries which would or­di­nar­ily have taken Is­lam­abad’s side, at least in rhetor­i­cal terms, like China, Turkey, Saudi Ara­bia and other mem­bers of the Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Is­lamic Coun­tries (OIC), chose to stay stu­diously neu­tral.

China’s markedly re­strained re­ac­tion would dis­turb its “all-weather ally.”

“As a shared neigh­bour and friend to both In­dia and Pak­istan, we are con­cerned about con­tin­u­ous con­fronta­tion and ten­sions be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan,” Geng Shuang , Chinese for­eign min­istry spokesper­son said at a reg­u­lar news brief­ing on Septem­ber 30. “We call on all rel­e­vant par­ties to ex­er­cise re­straint and re­frain from ac­tions that would es­ca­late ten­sion.”

Bei­jing, how­ever, chose to as­suage its ally by re­new­ing its “tech­ni­cal hold” or veto against declar­ing JEM chief Ma­sood Azhar as a UN-des­ig­nated ter­ror­ist.

Though cur­rently con­duct­ing mil­i­tary exercises with Is­lam­abad, Rus­sia came out in In­dia’s favour. The Rus­sian for­eign min­istry sig­naled sup­port for In­dia’s stand, say­ing

Sur­gi­cal strikes: Lt Gen Ran­bir Singh, DGMO, ad­dress­ing the me­dia along with Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Spokesper­son Vikas Swarup in New Delhi

Moscow stood for “de­ci­sive strug­gle against ter­ror­ism in all its man­i­fes­ta­tions.”

“We ex­pect that the Govern­ment of Pak­istan should take ef­fec­tive steps in or­der to stop the ac­tiv­i­ties of ter­ror­ist groups in the ter­ri­tory of the coun­try,” it said in a state­ment crit­i­cal of Is­lam­abad.

South Korea spoke out against ter­ror­ism and urged Pak­istan to do more to fight the men­ace on its soil. In Seoul, Pres­i­dent Park Geun Hye told Lok Sabha Speaker Su­mi­tra Ma­ha­jan that South Korea stood against ter­ror­ism in all forms.

Pak­istan’s iso­la­tion in South Asia deep­ened af­ter “brother” Afghanistan openly backed New Delhi’s sur­gi­cal strikes as an act of “self-de­fence,” while Bangladesh said In­dia had “ev­ery right” to de­fend it­self. All the SAARC coun­tries have pulled out of the re­gional sum­mit that was due to be held in Is­lam­abad shortly.

A new pe­ti­tion filed on the of­fi­cial UK Par­lia­ment web­site calling on Bri­tain to “strongly con­demn” Pak­istan for pro­vid­ing

a safe haven for ter­ror­ists to­day crossed the thresh­old of 10,000 sig­na­tures, mak­ing it in­cum­bent upon the UK govern­ment to re­spond to it.

The on­line pe­ti­tion states, “The In­terSer­vices In­tel­li­gence (ISI) has often been ac­cused of play­ing a role in ma­jor ter­ror­ist at­tacks across the world in­clud­ing the Septem­ber 11, 2001 at­tacks in the United States, ter­ror­ism in Kash­mir, In­dian Par­lia­ment At­tack and Mum­bai ter­ror at­tacks.”

“It has been noted by many that sev­eral mil­i­tant & crim­i­nal groups are backed by se­nior of­fi­cers in the Pak­istani army & the coun­try’s ISI in­tel­li­gence es­tab­lish­ment. Daniel By­man says Pak­istan is prob­a­bly to­day’s most ac­tive spon­sor of ter­ror­ism,” the pe­ti­tion said.

Ear­lier in Septem­ber, shortly af­ter the ter­ror­ist strike on an army base camp in Uri, US Con­gress­man Ted Poe, Chair­man of the House Sub­com­mit­tee on Ter­ror­ism, along with Con­gress­man Dana Rohrabacher, in­tro­duced H R 6069, the Pak­istan State Spon­sor of Ter­ror­ism Des­ig­na­tion Act in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

An on­line White House pe­ti­tion seek­ing to des­ig­nate Pak­istan a state spon­sor of ter­ror­ism has gained a record half a mil­lion sig­na­tures, five times the num­ber needed to get a re­sponse from the Obama Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban-Ki Moon’s spokesper­son, Stephane Du­jar­ric, said Oc­to­ber 1 that “The UN Mil­i­tary Ob­server Group in In­dia and Pak­istan ( UNMOGIP) has not di­rectly ob­served any fir­ing across the LoC re­lated to the lat­est in­ci­dents.”

To which Syed Ak­barud­din, In­dia’s Per­ma­nent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the UN, said: “The facts on the ground do not change whether some­one has ‘ob­served’ it or not.” In­dia does not recog­nise the UNMOGIP and had asked it to close its New Delhi of­fice af­ter the BJP-led govern­ment came to of­fice in 2014.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi mean­while has said that In­dia had never cov­eted any ter­ri­tory nor had it at­tacked a coun­try but made sac­ri­fices for the free­dom of oth­ers. Post-at­tack, he has not shown any rhetoric but sim­ply said that In­dia wants peace and will fight ter­ror­ists at­tack­ing In­dia with force.

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