Finally, Narendra Modi’s India did it. After angry reactions kept pouring out following the killing of 18 soldiers in a terror attack in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir in the early hours of September 18, the Indian Army on Thursday (September 29) said that it had carried out surgical strikes against terrorist launch pads along the Line of Control (LoC) on Wednesday (Sept 28) night.

India’s Director General of Military Operation (DGMO) Lt Gen Ranbir Singh said the move was made to neutralize terrorists who were waiting to enter India with sinister designs.

Pakistan, on the other hand, dismissed the claim of surgical attacks but confirmed the death of two Pakistani soldiers in firing started by the Indian troops.

The country’s military said the Indian establishment was trying to show the cross-border firing as surgical strikes to “create media hype”.

India's claim will find a bigger audience

Being the bigger of the two states and also a noisy democracy where public opinion leaves a comparatively bigger impact, India’s version will certainly find more resonance. While, Pakistan, which has been pushed to the corner in the international fraternity as a terror-exporting country, will find it harder to convince the world about its stand.

The hysteria goes on and on

But to what extent will this war hysteria go on? Given the nature of the Kashmir problem and the nuclear power of the two neighbors, one certainly doesn’t expect a decisive moment to arrive anytime soon, and in that case, propaganda looks a better option.

Especially for the Pakistani military and the Indian media.

But can these two countries, given their several other pressing problems, afford to dedicate so much of resources to the eternal Kashmir problem? Modi recently challenged Pakistan to win the war against poverty and similar social ills. True, it was a tactical take by the Indian PM to ease the pressure which was building up on his government in the aftermath of the Uri attack.

But the point was not an irrelevant one.

New Delhi gave a strong signal

Coming back to Wednesday’s strike, it can’t be denied that India approached the latest situation in an unusual manner. It publicly spoke about a strike and sent out the signal that it is not afraid to finish off the terrorists even if it meant escalation against an N-powered adversary.

Generally, these operations are mostly denied or are shown as acts of defense. But this time, India showed its resolve against the relentless waves of cross-border terror, perhaps because the pressure on its establishment to give an answer after the Uri attack was tremendous. The move also caught the Pakistanis by surprise, and it will be interesting to see how Islamabad reacts to this, apart from denying any surgical strike of course.

Modi's Pak policy changes?

The military action nevertheless marks a turn in Narendra Modi’s Pakistan policy. Since May 26, 2014, when he had invited, among others, his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to his oath-taking ceremony, to the action taken on September 28, 2016 – PM Modi’s stand vis-à-vis Pakistan has seen it all.

The presence of Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup alongside DGMO Singh confirmed that India now has a unanimous Pakistan policy which also doesn’t rule out military initiative besides the regular diplomatic missions.

However, two things can happen hereafter for India. First, a serious retaliation can emerge from Pakistan along the LoC and international border and secondly, the "surgical strikes" can turn India’s jingoist media even more enthusiastic, and the euphoria could go out of control and create bigger challenges for the policy-makers in New Delhi. As far as Pakistan is concerned, there is very little possibility of its approach on Kashmir will change from here on.

It’s just that India stepped up the ante from ‘strategic restraint’ in the regional power equation in South Asia on Wednesday night.

What lies next will be interesting to see.

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