So-called surgical strike: Indian farce throws up a few challenges

Published: October 1, 2016
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Indian Air Force 'Garuda' commandos descend from a helicopter during IAF Exercise Iron Fist 2016 at Pokhran in the western Indian state of Rajasthan on March 18, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Indian Air Force 'Garuda' commandos descend from a helicopter during IAF Exercise Iron Fist 2016 at Pokhran in the western Indian state of Rajasthan on March 18, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Indian claim of carrying out ‘surgical strikes’ is still shrouded in mystery while Pakistan insists no such activity took place on its side of the Line of Control (LoC) before dawn on Thursday.

On the contrary, an Indian minister on Friday retracted his country’s earlier claim that helicopters were used during the ‘surgical strikes’. The retraction by Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore cast doubts on the Indian narrative and reinforced the view that the term ‘surgical strikes’ might have been used by the Modi administration just for public consumption.

Claims and counter claims aside, the evolving situation and aggressive posturing by India has thrown serious challenges for Pakistan both at the diplomatic and military fronts.

Although Pakistan vehemently denied India carried out any ‘surgical strikes’, a series of huddles both at political and military levels suggest it is not business as usual. “These activities point to one thing that Pakistan is confronted with serious challenges in the evolving scenario,” former ambassador and strategic affairs expert Ali Sarwar Naqvi told The Express Tribune.

Militarily, what India is trying to achieve under the Modi government is to change the rules of engagement at the de facto border. Though the Indian claim is debatable, the fact that New Delhi publicly announced its special forces intruded into the Pakistani side of the LoC is tantamount to setting a dangerous precedent.

Under the existing rules of engagements, Pakistan and Indian forces exchange small arm and sometimes artillery fire but without intruding into each other’s controlled part of Kashmir. Therefore, Indian troops’ purported intrusion is a red line that Pakistan always says if breached would be considered as an act of war.

But despite Indian provocation, even if it is for public consumption, Pakistan appears to be following a careful policy that is to show military restraint but pursue a pro-active diplomacy, according to officials, who spoke to The Express Tribune off the record.

They say that while showing military restraint and preferring proactive diplomacy, the Pakistan government will convey to the global community that this approach should not be construed as its weakness.

“Pakistan must take key global capitals into confidence on the progressive defensive measures it will take in case of further escalation of tensions by Indian security forces across the LoC, especially in the case of hot pursuit,” said Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed, who teaches international politics at the Quaid-i-Azam University.

According to Pakistan’s assessment, India wanted to achieve two objectives through publicly claiming that its forces carried out surgical strikes (a) to divert global attention from the Kashmir situation, (b) to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in the long term.

“So, Pakistan will not fall into the Indian trap,” said one official. And Dr Ishtiaq agrees with this policy, saying Pakistan should respond to the situation keeping in mind Indian tactics. On the diplomatic front, major challenge for Pakistan is to counter the narrative being built by India that it is responsible for terrorist attacks in the neighboring country.

More worrying thing for Islamabad is that powerful countries, including the US, have somehow maintained either silence or tacitly supportive of Modi’s aggressive posturing towards Pakistan.

“India is presenting itself as a victim of cross-border terrorism. We need to counter this narrative through a well-crafted policy,” former ambassador to the US Abid Hussain said.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2016.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • Satya
    Oct 1, 2016 - 9:22AM

    If the surgical strikes are farce than why do you people even think about it, why there are so many meetings by govt and military? Why you people approached UN on this.. live your normal life and concentrate on CPEC project. No indian expect that Pakistan will accept these strikes.. you people not accepted your defeate in 3 wars in India, so no surprise this time as well. Living in disney land until it dooms on you is best thing for Pakistan.
    India is just asking one think, kill all the terrorists in your country including your good terrorists..than no indian allow indian govt to any action against Pakistan..once the terrorism ends than we can settle our Kashimir issue on legal and historical facts but not on religion because your 2 nation theory already thrown to dustbin by our Bangladeshi brothers. We have settled border issue with our Bangladeshi brothers peacefully.. it all depends on how you behave with india.Recommend

  • Ghazwa tul hind
    Oct 1, 2016 - 10:04AM

    Who said pakistan is worried fool?.it is right of pakistan to inform UN about their fact finding mission in kashmir.and about your lies through which you are trying to defame pakistan.it is our right.yeh about wars your are absolutly right.but 1965 war pakistan has upper hand..in 1971 war we lost because of your Gurrellia Mukti Baheni.two nation theory flopped here because bengalis felt proud being bengali not being muslim and this was fanned by your proxies in balochistan too where your spy officer confessed it.in 1999 yes pakistan suffered due Musharraf wrong dicisions.i heard it in najam sethi speech.yes we need to settle kashmir which is not possible on your terms on 47 which support your stance.Recommend

  • Abdur Raziq
    Oct 1, 2016 - 10:19AM

    India has two objectives, achieving of one is loosing of the other.
    On one hand, with the support of the USA, India wants to become a regional power against China.
    On the other hand India wants to sabotage CPEC.
    If India starts war against Pakistan, it will automatically loose its military and economic power. India will never stop CPEC by war but will be disintegrated in the future. Recommend

  • Pakistaniat
    Oct 1, 2016 - 10:20AM

    @Satya:
    No pakistani expects Indians to accept that there’ was no surgical strike. Read the BBC or CNN for an impartial view. You guys still don’t get it. Recommend

  • Gaz
    Oct 1, 2016 - 11:05AM

    As long as Nawaz is there then Pakistan will always look isolated, he lacks charisma and cannot speak without the notepad and even with the notepad he just reads directly like a bored child.Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Oct 1, 2016 - 11:27AM

    @Satya:
    Only a matter of time before you will realise that there was no surgical strike and the whole 1 billion Indians were made to look like idiots. How did you manage a surgical strike without helicopters!??!!!! To start with stop your hypocrisy and stop meddling in other countries affairs. There is no point in giving sweeping statements besides Indians always ended up with a ‘pie in the face’. Recommend

  • Ali Ahmed
    Oct 1, 2016 - 11:58AM

    @Satya It’s the world first surgical strike in which India lost 3 of its post, 8 soldier died and 1 is captured by Pak Army…… INTERESTING and
    Indian Minister said we used Helicopter later on Army said no Helicopter was use….. VERY INTERESTINGRecommend

  • Srinivasulu Mekala
    Oct 1, 2016 - 1:35PM

    Let us have this arrangement: we keep doing, you keep denying. This way both of us are happy. Deal?Recommend

  • tatvavetta
    Oct 1, 2016 - 1:39PM

    Those who are trolling here are missing he need of the hour. Both the countries need peace at their borders and need to concentrate on welfare of their people. Poverty alleviation,
    health fearless existence are main issues even for people of Kashmir. Even if both the countries look after Kashmiris in their areas of their respective control that is enough for Kashmiris. Take a break for two years and let the Kashmiris alone.Recommend

  • Lahul
    Oct 1, 2016 - 7:55PM

    No. You keep lying, we keep exposing Indian lies. [email protected] Mekala: Recommend

  • Mogul
    Oct 1, 2016 - 7:58PM

    Which other country in the world has confirmed to what India is saying except India itself?Recommend

  • JSM
    Oct 1, 2016 - 10:00PM

    @Abdur Raziq:
    Wrong on both counts. We do not care. We are in competition with ourselves. You talk of CPEC- India has started sale of Spectrum today and the India Government expect to earn US$85 billion from this sale- this is government earning- not a loan or a dole. There are private Indian companies who have invetsments of more than US$50 million. Therefore chill on CPEC account. Just leave us alone. You send terrorists into India, we will retaliate in all ways possible.Recommend

  • auginpk
    Oct 2, 2016 - 8:09AM

    It is good that India is giving some competition.Recommend

  • adeel
    Oct 2, 2016 - 10:32AM

    @Satya:

    you ask why Pakistan is worried, because of the the Indian propaganda to portray itself as a victim of cross border terrorism which is completely contrary to the reality India is the one destabilize Pakistan to effect the long-term prospect of CPEC (which is why USA supporting India) and to divert the world attention from the Kashmir situation…..Recommend

  • Ben
    Oct 2, 2016 - 4:25PM

    @JSM:

    There’s no proof on what you’re saying, this is true as India’s surgical strikes.Recommend

  • JSM
    Oct 3, 2016 - 12:46PM

    @Ben:
    Live in your own world. We do not have to convince you. Capitalization of State Bank of India alone is more than the capitalization of all companies in Karachi Stock Exchange.,Recommend

  • Ben
    Oct 3, 2016 - 2:15PM

    @JSM:

    Haha, so basically Indians convinced themselves here? Here comes surgical strikes claim again.Recommend

  • Sultan
    Oct 3, 2016 - 2:30PM

    @JSM:

    If you’re NOT here to convince, why post on here? You’re argument is convincing as childish ego.Recommend

  • January
    Oct 3, 2016 - 5:50PM

    @JSM:
    Something you’re doing, lol. If India had so much money, they could at least feed their poor and buy some toilet instead defecating the roads.Recommend

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