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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 42 New Delhi October 8, 2016

‘Surgical Strikes’, Indo-Pak, Kashmir

Sunday 9 October 2016


In both Pakistan and India there have been certain noteworthy developments following the ‘surgical strikes’ carried out by the Indian armed forces across the LoC on September 29.

In Pakistan there were mass demonstrations in PoK protesting against the rulers’ move to shift the jihadi terrorists into places where they would reside by the side of the common citizens since the terror group members are frequently coming in conflict with the locals. There was also an ugly spat between Shahbaz Sharif, who heads the Punjab Government, and the ISI chief. Also the Pakistan Army Chief, Rahil Sharif, delivered a hard-hitting speech against India pledging a fitting rebuff if New Delhi attempted to attack Pakistan. Is this a precursor to the armed forces under Rahil Sharif taking over the reins of power in our neighbouring state dislodging the elected head of government in Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif? Whether or not such an apprehension would come out to be true, what is indisputable is that instructions have been given to the non-state actors working at the behest of the military to inflict heavy casualties and damages on the Indian Army in Kashmir; the possibility of large-scale terror-acts during the festive season in India is also not being ruled out.

In India, some of the Opposition parties demanded proof from the Modi Government to verify the latter’s claim of the special forces having carried out the surgical strikes inside PoK. An undercover operation by a TV channel yesterday has revealed that an SP in PoK (of the Mirpur Range) had admitted of the surgical strikes which, according to his information, had resulted in the death of 20 persons among whom were five Pakistani militarymen. This has put a lid on the controversy in this regard.

However, the strikes have not been able to end cross-border terrorism as the incident in Handwara today, wherein three terrorists were gunned down, shows.

At the same time, Rahul Gandhi has come out openly to accuse the PM and BJP of ‘hiding behind the jawans’ and seeking to ‘profiteer on the soldiers’ blood’. There has been a huge outcry with the spokesmen of the ruling party assailing such a statement but even non-Congress Opposition parties have been prompt to point to posters in Lucknow comparing Modi to Lord Ram after the surgical strikes and decrying the naked attempt to politicise the Army action for the BJP’s petty electoral benefit. Just yesterday Modi had warned his party leaders not to resort to chest-thumping after the successful strikes but the first to violate that directive was his own Defence Minister today at a rally in Agra.

All these bring out the level of politicisation among parties in India and persisting India-Pakistan tensions after the ‘surgical strikes’. And the Kashmir Valley continues to bleed while there is no sign of public alienation from the authorities ending soon.

October 6 S.C.