India Sets New Terms of Engagement with ‘SURGICAL STRIKES’
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.