In the wake of Pathankot-type suicide terror attack on an Indian Army camp at Uri along the Line of Control, it will be a tough test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take harder and decisive action against the perpetrators across the border. Though so far the prime minister has exercised restraint on using force in response to terrorism than any of his predecessors, this time he has to deal with two brazen attacks on military bases this year. Clearly, these incidents are prompting him to deliver on his tough talk on terrorism.
On September 19, PM Modi chaired a high-level meeting attended by top ministers and other officials over the Uri attacks.
The PM has met his security planners — including Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, key cabinet ministers, the Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs and the heads of intelligence agencies —to weigh revenge against the perpetrators of the attack.
Through Twitter he had promised: “I assure the nation that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished.”
Soon after the army’s director general of military operations, (DGMO), Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh warned: “The Indian Army has displayed considerable restraint while handling the terrorist situation both along the Line of Control and in the hinterland. However, we have the desired capability to respond to such blatant acts of aggression and violence as deemed appropriate by us. We reserve the right to respond to any act of the adversary at a time and place of own choosing (sic).”
DGMO Lt Gen Ranbir Singh indianexpress
All these developments indicative of start of some operation across the Line of Control (LoC).
Following the high-level meeting, India has decided to diplomatically isolate Pakistan as part of retaliation. The ministers backed moves to present evidence of Pakistan’s “complicity” at global fora.
However, on its part, Pakistan has categorically rejected the accusations being levelled by Modi Government. In signs of estrangement, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wrote letters to the leaders of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – China, France, Russia, the UK and the US – about “grave human rights violations” in Kashmir by Indian forces.
Islamabad has also made no offer of cooperation to investigate the Uri attack, as was done in the wake of Pathankot attacks in January.
Meanwhile, Japan and Russia have condemned the Uri attacks that claimed lives of at least 18 soldiers, and offered their condolences to the victims’ families.
In an apparent fallout of Uri terror attack, Russia has called off its joint military exercise with Pakistan, CNN-News 18 reported on Monday. Russia’s move is a big diplomatic gain for India as the latter had decided to isolate Pakistan at international level.
India is now set to raise Uri attack at the 71st UNGA and highlight Pakistan’s involvement into the deadly terror strike. Sources state that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will strongly emphasize on Pakistan’s involvement in the attack in her UNGA speech on September 26.
The current national mood — after a series terror attacks by Pakistan — is of assertive nationalism. This was reflected in a video posted by a jawan on social media in which he said: “Jakar Bata Do pakistanion ko….hum darte nahi atom bombo se, visfotak poto se hum darte hai to Shimla, Tashkant jaise samjhuaton se….Kashmir to hoga par Pakistan nahi hoga…..”.The other jawans were also seen shouting in chorus Pakistan nahi hoga.
However, it needs to be remembered that air strikes on terrorist camps across the LoC, or across the international India-Pakistan boundary, would invite retaliation from Pakistan. This could unleash an escalatory spiral that would take both sides towards a full-fledged war (and a possible nuclear one).