RETRIBUTION

Vengeance is an act of justice  – Samuel Johnson

On wrongs swift vengeance awaits  –  Alexander Pope

We applaud our army. In surgical strikes in POK, it destroyed six-eight terrorist launch pads killing 30-55 terrorists. Death of two Pak soldiers was a collateral damage. In the four hour operation – 12:30 – 04:30 am, 29 Sept’16 – we did not lose even a single soldier; two were injured but returned.

The strikes came a day after Pakistan defence minister Khawaja Asif’s threat to “nuke India.” What a calling of bluff.

In Pakistan, confusion, denial. Khawaja Asif, “Indian army opened up small arm fire last night . . . across the line of control.” But Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister, “strongly condemn the unprovoked and naked aggression of Indian forces.” When Pakistan NSA, Lt Gen Januja, spoke to the US NSA,  Susan Rice, to complain about the “strikes,” she reminded him of: “Pakistan will take effective action to combat and de-legitimize UN-designated terrorist individuals and entities.”

Our war is not against Pakistan: we did not cross international border, we struck at terrorists operating from our soil in illegal occupation of Pakistan. Our attack was not against Pakistan army, we struck not at them but at the terrorists. Our Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Ranbir Singh made these points clear to Pakistan DGMO in a phone call soon after the strike.

Our strike was a symbol of paradigm shift in our response to terrorism; a symbol of political will; a symbol of India’s readiness to accept the risk in cross-border strikes at terrorists; a symbol of our determination that the terrorist shall be punished; an embodiment of PM Modi’s “those behind the [Uri] attack won’t go unpunished.”

And for that the political leadership is to be applauded as much as the army. The army had the capability to mount such strikes at the time of Parliament 2001; Mumbai 2008; Pathankot 2016. But the political leadership did not give the army the go ahead. This time, after Uri, it did.

These strikes are part of an orchestrated response to Uri and to patronizing of terrorism by Pakistan: isolating Pakistan at the UN, pulling out of SAARC summit at Islamabad that induced three other countries to also pull out resulting in calling-off of the summit, a review of Indus Water Treaty – Modi, “Blood and water can’t flow together” – that has sent Pakistan rushing to World Bank,  briefing of foreign media, think tanks and envoys by our Foreign Secy, and so on.

These strikes are the beginning, not the end. Pakistan will respond. But that response will not be to strike at terrorism at home – it is too deeply ingrained there to  be removed by surgical strikes – but to strike against us. Through terrorists. Through shelling of border villages. We have temporarily relocated the people in our border villages. But they will return and will be at risk.

Strikes at terrorists in Pakistan are not novel. US regularly strikes at terrorists there. The most famous of these was the one at Abbottabad on 02 May 2011 killing Osama bin Laden. Since 2004, US has killed more than 108 prominent terrorist-leaders and many more foot soldiers by strikes in Pakistan.

US strikes and cajoling have not induced Pakistan to act against terrorism. Nor will our strikes. But our strikes are a message: we will strike at terrorism whatever it takes; whatever be the cost. That will not deter Pakistan. But it will make them cautious; make them realize that sponsoring terror is not a no-cost or low-cost option.

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