Muted Global Response on Strikes Hints Delhi Did its Homework Well

Muted global response on surgical strikes hints, Delhi had major powers on-board beforehand, writes C Uday Bhaskar

4 min read
Muted Global Response on Strikes Hints Delhi Did its Homework Well

India’s surgical strikes against the terror launch pads along the Line of Control (LoC) in the aftermath of the Uri terror attack on 18 September has had a relatively muted response from the global community, while the more intriguing reaction of denial has been from Pakistan.

In the first 12 hours after the Indian DGMO Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh made the announcement about the surgical strike at a press conference yesterday, the global reaction remains relatively muted.

Also Read: Uri Avenged: Exclusive Details of 20 Sep Cross-LoC Surgical Strike


Muted Global Response

Given the time zones, Beijing had the more detailed response and it is instructive to note how China has positioned itself. The foreign office in Beijing stated that “China was  in communication with both sides through different channels” and hoped Indian and Pakistan “can enhance communication, properly deal with differences and work jointly to maintain peace and security”.

Earlier on Wednesday (28 September), Beijing had stated that China ‘values’ the Pakistani position on Kashmir and made the mandatory reference that it hoped that both South Asian neighbours would “maintain regional peace and stability by joint efforts”.

A detailed response from Washington DC is awaited but it may be recalled that a day prior to the Indian counter-terror operation, the US National Security Adviser had spoken to her Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval, and had called upon Pakistan  to “combat and de-legitimise terror groups operating from its soil.”

London and some other capitals expressed their concern about developments in the region and while deploring the scourge of terrorism, advised restraint and a speedy dialogue to redress all issues.

Also Read: Army Confirms PoK Surgical Ops: 1st Strike Reported by The Quint

DGMO Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh and MEA spokesperson Vikas Swaru address a press conference in New Delhi, on 29 September 2016. (Photo: IANS)

Delhi Did its Homework Well Before the Surgical Strikes

The most vocal support for India came from the neighbouring country Bangladesh, which had also joined Delhi in boycotting the SAARC Summit in Islamabad scheduled for November. An adviser to the Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina noted that India has all the legal and internationally accepted rights to respond to any attack on its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Delhi evidently engaged with the global community in a quiet and focused manner and apprised them about the evidence it had collected post Uri that implicated the Pakistani deep state.

It is understood that the envoys of major nations were briefed in Delhi by the Ministry of External Affairs about the Indian experience, with respect to the terror attempts in the recent months and that most of them empathised with the challenge that lay ahead for Delhi.

This diplomatic effort appears to have paid suitable dividends and may be the basis for the muted international response to the Indian surgical strike – but more intriguing is the reaction from Islamabad.

Also Read: After Punishing Perpetrators, Can Modi Get Back to Vikas Agenda?

People living close to the border leave their homes for safety reasons at Nai basti gulabgarh, RS Pura near Jammu, 29 September 2016. (Photo: AP)

Reason Behind Pakistan’s Denial

Pakistan has flatly denied that any such surgical strike took place and what had occurred was ‘unprovoked’ firing by  the Indian Army across the LoC, which resulted in the death of two Pakistani soldiers. Social media and the audio-visual medium in Pakistan adopted the same stance and went to the extent of accusing India of fabricating the whole narrative of a surgical strike for domestic political reasons.

The harmonisation of the two opposing narratives is  likely to  emerge in the next few days for the exigency of ‘significant casualties’ cannot be buried unobtrusively – both literally and metaphorically.

Pakistan’s denial of the surgical strike and its fallout may stem from the fact that Rawalpindi does not wish to lose face with its own people, as it did after Abbotabad neutralisation of Osama bin Laden ; or allow the situation to escalate  into a major India-Pakistan confrontation. What better way than to deny the entire episode ?

But the question doing the rounds on Pak TV lingers. Where are the bodies of the ‘significant casualties?’  Surely this loss of life cannot escape the attention and outrage that social media can cause.

Also Read: The Surgical Attacks Will Change the Rules of India-Pakistan Game


‘Difficult Days’ Ahead for South Asia

For India, the Pakistani response will have to be monitored carefully. General Raheel  Sharif, the Pakistani Army Chief, is all set to retire in two months’ time – and his legacy cannot be allowed to be that of an Indian surgical strike across a 200 plus km arc that caught Pakistan by surprise.

The possibility of an escalation  from the Pakistani side – either by overt or covert means cannot be ruled out. The Rawalpindi-Muridke nexus and their investment in sleeper cells and terror modules in the extended South Asian region could lead to the equivalent of ‘difficult days ‘ in near future. But having taken this resolute action, it is expected that the Modi team will stay the course and combine resolve with prudence in an appropriate manner though some questions continue to linger.

(The writer is a leading expert on strategic affairs. He is currently Director, Society for Policy Studies. He can be reached at @theUdayB. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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