Post Uri Attack, Indian Responds

After attack on army base in Uri, there was a lot of debate about potential Indian options. Many had felt that India had a very limited options against a nuclear armed Pakistan. To everyones surprise, Indian special forces had crossed over line of control and destroyed terrorist launching pads. Predictably, debates have started. Some say, India has given a fitting response to decade long terrorist strikes and nuclear blackmail. Others believe India has opened a can of worms, and the genie is unlikely to go back inside the bottle. The practice of strategic restraint that India has followed for many years has been abandoned.

I am not a war monger. I feel happy and quietly joyous when I see civility and humane behaviour between people. I eyes go misty watching Veer Zara, My Name is Khan and Bajrangi Bhaijaan.  India must live at peace with herself as well as with her neighbours. We have tried to do just that, despite being attacked at regular intervals. Countless people have been maimed, disabled or killed.

We have followed principle of strategic restraint in the face of repeated provocations and deceit. Of the numerous small and large incidence, let us look at a few:

  • Shimla agreement signed between two prime ministers, Indira Gandhi and Z A Bhutto, was junked as soon as it reached Pakistan;
  •  Lahore bus journey was followed by Kargil invasion;
  • Terrorists sailed into Mumbai and killed innocents;
  • Indian prime ministers extended hand of friendship was chopped by attack on Pathankot airbase.
  • Indian gesture of allowing Pakistani investigators into airbase was not followed by reciprocal visit of Indian investigators.
  • Then came attack on Uri base;

As murder and mayhem progressed, we were angry, helpless and clueless. We never retaliated. We believed, being a larger country India must not respond to our neighbour in the same coin. We must try to resolve any dispute in a civilised manner. We must wean away our neighbour from violence using our love.  We created “Aman ki Asha”. We encouraged cultural exchange. We enhanced people to people contact. We played cricket. We allowed film actors, singers from neighbouring country to come here, earn money and go back. We reasoned after all, actors are not terrorists. Why should they have to answer for the act committed by someone else? 

We were living under threat of nuclear attack. Our neighbour has repeatedly said they would use nuclear weapon if feel threatened. They never articulated threat perception. This fear of possible nuclear attack had forced us into inaction. As a nation we were emasculated and our military emerged as an impotent force. 

We were also living under fear of world opinion. As it emerged, post surgical strike there were not many people who downright criticised Indian operation. More so it was highlighted that India did not occupy territory, Indian did not attack Pakistani army, India simply acted on terror launching pads. 

Crossing the line of control by Indian special forces has overcome the mental blockage and emotional baggage of nuclear threat. We may not have solved terrorist problem. We definitely have created a perception if pushed against wall we shall push back. This new found realisation made us feel good. Such a morale booster is important for armed forces as well as for general population. Our neighbor will send terrorist irrespective of we remain restrained or we act. Why not hit back then and see how far they go.

Now the question that begs answer is can we do diplomacy using non-violence alone? Can a violent neighbour be controlled by pure love? Running a country cannot be compared to renouncing our rights over territories and resources. Because as an administrator, one has to lead the nation. National interest always remains supreme. From that angle, retribution and punitive actions are acceptable means when diplomacy is unable to make any headway. 

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