Cross-border raid: Strategic analysts laugh off Indian claim

Published: September 30, 2016
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The fenced border between Indian and Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

The fenced border between Indian and Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Indian army’s claim that it has carried out ‘surgical strikes’ on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control (LoC) begs the question: Is such a sophisticated and precision-guided operation possible in a highly militarised zone? Or, does the Indian military have the wherewithal to mount such an operation?

The de facto border that divides the Himalayan region of Kashmir into Pakistan and India is around 880 kilometres long. For decades, there has been a huge concentration of troops on both sides of the LoC. In recent years, India taking advantage of the 2003 ceasefire agreement has erected a fence along the LoC and of late employed the latest surveillance devices to stop any infiltration from the Pakistani side.

‘Surgical’ farce blows up in India’s face

Since the Uri attack that heightened tensions and sparked fears of a possible military showdown, Pakistani Army has been on the ‘high state of alert’ to deal with any untoward situation. In this situation, was it plausible that special Indian forces intruded deep into the Pakistani side, carried out operation at multiple sites, stayed there for almost six hours, eliminated so-called ‘terror launch pads’ and then went back without even suffering any casualties?

The Indian army provided little insight as to how the entire operation was conducted. The media there, however, said the operation was a combination of heliborne and ground forces. Special forces were para-dropped for the operation, it added. It said alleged terror launch pads targeted were in the range of 2- 3 kilometres from the LoC.

Indian officials claimed that special forces targeted at least seven different places inside the LoC. This means, according to a Pakistani military official, a minimum of 70 Indian troops intruded and carried out the so-called ‘surgical strikes’.

“This looks a fantastic movie script,” said the official, who has the knowledge of LoC and terrain there.  “Do you think it was possible that more than 70 Indian soldiers were on our side of the LoC for hours and our forces couldn’t detect them,” asked the official. “This is just unbelievable story created by the Indian side for public consumption.”

Officially, Pakistan rebutted the Indian claim, insisting that there had been cross-LoC fire initiated and conducted by India. This, Pakistan Army pointed out, was existential phenomenon where the two countries often exchange fire at the LoC.

Defence analysts are also astonished at the Indian claim of conducting surgical strikes and that too at a time when relations between the two arch enemies are on the edge and any misadventurism may lead to a serious military conflict.

US urges restraint over Kashmir

Maj Gen (retd) Ejaz Awan finds the Indian claims that special forces were para-dropped as unbelievable. “So, if they para-dropped special troops, then how they pulled them out after they completed their so-called surgical strikes,” he questioned. “For pulling out these troops, you need helicopters on the ground,” he explained saying this was easier said than done.

Lt Gen (retd) Amjad Shoaib, who had also served at the LoC during his service, concurred with the assessment. He said intrusion was possible at some mountainous areas along the LoC, but to say that Indian special forces came and carried out ‘surgical strikes’ and went back undetected was “too good a story to be believed”.

India’s claim finds few takers. A current affairs and defence magazine for Asia-Pacific questioned India’s capability to launch such a sophisticated and coordinated attack.

“Surgical strikes can be conducted through airborne or artillery based precision-guided strikes or ground force based assaults; both of which require sophisticated intelligence collection, platforms to conduct collections, and surveillance of target sites and objectives,” military expert Shawn Snow wrote in The Diplomat magazine.

“India is still on the cusp of building a sophisticated and modernised asymmetrical capability to conduct counterterror operations, while much of its forces are still organised and trained on Cold War models,” he said.

Pakistan Army rubbishes India’s claim of ‘surgical strikes’ along LoC

“Over the last decade, India has spearheaded efforts to modernise her military to include domestic production of UAVs. Rostum I & II could provide India with an air platform capable of surgical strikes for target surveillance, and intelligence collection. However, these platforms are still in development.”

If this is the case, then it begs a question: why the Narendra Modi government presented a routine exchange of fire as ‘surgical strikes’? The reason, experts say, is that the Indian prime minister was under immense pressure to live up to his own promises that his administration would punish the Uri attackers.

Modi has launched a diplomatic offensive against Pakistan taking a series of steps such as boycotting the Saarc summit, threatening to review the water treaty as well as MFN status for Pakistan. But all those measures, he knew, would make little difference to Pakistan.

“Hence he [Modi] needs face saving,” said Gen Shoaib. By claiming that the Indian military carried out surgical strikes, Modi can now go to the public and hyper-nationalist media that he avenged the Uri attack.

This situation, many observers believe, would help Modi build his election campaign for the crucial state elections in politically important states such as Utar Pradesh next year.

When asked, a senior military official said Pakistan ‘does not foresee’ any escalation in tensions but added that the country’s armed forces were vigilant to face any threat.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (32)

  • Hamza
    Sep 30, 2016 - 9:33AM

    Its amazing to see how gulible indian public is. I honestly feel sorry for them.Recommend

  • Patriot
    Sep 30, 2016 - 9:36AM

    Probably the mass murderer of Gujrat had a dream about a surgical strike which he thought was reality the next morning… these endians believe too much in fairy tales anywaysRecommend

  • saurav pandey
    Sep 30, 2016 - 9:38AM

    Army will release a vedio soon.Recommend

  • Darvesh
    Sep 30, 2016 - 9:52AM

    This is India whose people need delusional stories over food shelter toilet sanitation.Shining India.Recommend

  • Ali
    Sep 30, 2016 - 10:08AM

    poor Indians living on crumbs of lies.Recommend

  • AD
    Sep 30, 2016 - 10:09AM

    Yeah! Convince yourselves and remain in denial. This is not the first time Paks sovereignty has been breached. World is happy with India’s actions and more such strikes will follow.Recommend

  • tahir mahmood
    Sep 30, 2016 - 10:24AM

    The garbage you are believig is called propaganda nothing else. The main thing to understand is we gave americans the permission for the bin laden operation to save there face and pretend they completed what they came to afghanistan for, hence his face was not shown and burial was made at see etc ( he had actually died in 2002). Never mind lets get back to Modi, by working at google and in Nasa i believe doesnt suugest that you are a super race pakistan too has many whiz kids.

    Just dont get used by the west in your enmity against pakistan and china that you end up doing there dirty work in your pride you forget that you were no more clever then Saddam hussein when he attacked iran on the agenda of the west and suffered major losses. Also dont trust america his ftiendship is not like the russians and chinese he has other motives.

    Anything you do pls consult isreal as you are doing it needs a partner in south asia. His chain doesnt allow him to bite so far. Keep going doomsday is not far. EnjoyRecommend

  • Amit
    Sep 30, 2016 - 11:01AM

    @Patriot:
    Yes strategic analysts of Pakistan like Zahid Hamid. India has done what it had to and now it’s good that Pakistan do not own up attack as this will give more space to India for future.Recommend

  • M Bilal
    Sep 30, 2016 - 11:23AM

    not that no one in India will be having same questions. I am sure there will be some sane minds looking into semantics of the Indian claims but unfortunately they will be either silenced or tagged as traitors. Recommend

  • Li Wei
    Sep 30, 2016 - 11:25AM

    Indian army has yesterday given statement that it has recorded the entire process of surgical strike inside Pakistan Ocupied Kashmir(POK) through helmet fitted video capturing devices and drone cameras and will release the video at its time of preferring.Recommend

  • Vectra
    Sep 30, 2016 - 11:34AM

    India has done what it needs to do,now it is Pakistan’s wish to either accept or not but India knows it,US knows it and all other 25 nations knows it.Recommend

  • Vectra
    Sep 30, 2016 - 11:37AM

    India has done what it needs to do,now it is Pakistan’s wish to either accept or not but India knows it,US knows it and all other 25 nations knows it.India has got live picture and video evidences of entire operation too taken from UAV.
    After all Osama videos were also not shared by US on the same day.Recommend

  • Imran
    Sep 30, 2016 - 12:03PM

    @Li Wei
    Yes the video hasn’t been released by India since the movie’s shooting hasn’t started yet. On India’s time of preference (read completion of the film produced by Indian army) it will be released. ROFL :PRecommend

  • Hassan Shah
    Sep 30, 2016 - 12:05PM

    It is nit new from Indian armed forces to stage dramas like this….Recommend

  • M Bilal
    Sep 30, 2016 - 12:20PM

    @Vectra:
    will be very interesting to see. I hope we don’t see some blur compilation from famous counterstrike game in name of video evidences. Trust me, your government has gone a bit too far this time in fooling their public. A lot will have to be explained to make neutral audience buy the claims.Recommend

  • Milind
    Sep 30, 2016 - 12:41PM

    Pakistani strategic analyst is an oxymoron… They have nothing else remaining but to laugh at claims, even when proofs are furnished.Recommend

  • wb
    Sep 30, 2016 - 1:04PM

    Amjad Shoaib is a strategic analyst?!!!!! Hmmm…no wonder Pakistan has been listening to these people and failing in their wars, losing their lands.Recommend

  • Me
    Sep 30, 2016 - 1:04PM

    For a Instance let’s Presume this is cross border fire.Important is that the world now will not be surprised in next actual surgical strike.Purpose served. PAK and INDIA both have nukes and hence using this option is ruled out for both.by creating this seen of surgical strike , India have taken the deplomatic lead for all the future actions inside PAK. we have good economy to sustain any war , but pak can not sustain.More Important is your All weather friend will be in worry as their 49BD Investment is in danger and will force you to make peace with INDIA.Recommend

  • shehryar bukhari
    Sep 30, 2016 - 1:15PM

    @saurav pandey:
    Vdo is out already bro , featuring katrina and saif on pak side of LOC :)Recommend

  • Vectra
    Sep 30, 2016 - 1:54PM

    @M Bilal:
    Byt why to explain that to Pakistan who seem always listens to militants not others.India’s 26/11,Pathankot etc etc proof fall in deaf ear.So no point in sharing further evidence with Pakistan except some minor incidents if any.

    It will be shared only with world nations and international bodies like UN.India is no fool that it will call 25 or more foreign nations envoys including US,Russia,France,Britain and China and brief them of the operation if it had not carried out the same and had no evidence.Recommend

  • Abhijeet
    Sep 30, 2016 - 2:00PM

    Yeah right Pakistan. Laugh it off. Its the best medicine.Recommend

  • Vectra
    Sep 30, 2016 - 2:17PM

    If Pakistan says no surgical strikes and strategic experts laughing then why so many meetings,full day meetings.so many interviews and explanations,so many threats of Nuke,going to UN,US etc etc,quoting here and there media headlines and choosing the one the suits Pakistan.

    Why doing all these if you are saying there is no strike,earlier you have not been in so hurry and not done so many things for just 2 soldiers.Why now?Recommend

  • Malik Saab
    Sep 30, 2016 - 2:23PM

    Yesterday i was in Bhimber with my friends to enjoy good weather. Indian media is even claiming to do strikes in those region. Interestingly even locals do not know about it. All Pakistanis are laughing at Indian media and government claims. Nothing happened in these regions. Things are normal as usual.Recommend

  • M. Emad
    Sep 30, 2016 - 2:53PM

    Now the ball is in the court of ‘Field Marshal’. Recommend

  • M Bilal
    Sep 30, 2016 - 3:18PM

    @Vectra:
    I said you got to explain this to NEUTRAL audience. We Pakistani’s do not need you to explain anything to us. The envoys of 25 odd nations perhaps didn’t ask you any technical questions & neither did you find it necessary to explain them anything. But after you guys are over partying, the questions posed by NEUTRAL analysts will make you realize how easily you guys got fooled up. Till then keep on living in fantasy world.Recommend

  • Adeel Qadri
    Sep 30, 2016 - 3:18PM

    @saurav pandey: like phatom movie?? lolz you’ll keep waiting for that video.Recommend

  • Hamza
    Sep 30, 2016 - 3:22PM

    India released another Bollywood film “surgical strikes”…Recommend

  • Mohammed
    Sep 30, 2016 - 3:34PM

    @saurav pandey:
    The Bollywood film is already in production.Recommend

  • Zealot
    Sep 30, 2016 - 3:47PM

    This is a fake ops.first they said 200 soldiers returned unharmed then they said one had minor injuries due to mine explosion.200 soldiers on five to six helicopters go undetected,while our fighters jets are already in air,airdefence system on high alert and army is already on LOC with Tanks and Artillery guns and these soldiers returned home safely? This is nothing more than a joke….yes indians will believe it onlyRecommend

  • aviator
    Sep 30, 2016 - 5:07PM

    fodder for gullible people. neither more, nor less.Recommend

  • Oommen
    Sep 30, 2016 - 5:13PM

    Pakistan should try to get some land, establish human base & get rare minerals from other planets. (Instead of this silliness)Recommend

  • AJ
    Sep 30, 2016 - 6:16PM

    @saurav pandey:
    yep bollywoood is on it starring Sunny Deol.Recommend

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