We are not going to war with Pakistan. It wasn’t an option for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when 166 people were gunned down by Pakistani terrorists in Mumbai eight years ago. And it isn’t an option for Prime Minister Narendra Modi today, after 18 Indian Army jawans were killed in an attack on a military base in Uri, Kashmir by suspected Jaish militants.
This isn’t the first terrorist attack on an Indian military base. Just eight months ago, terrorists were running amok in Pathankot after striking the Air Force Station base which allows our forces to be above enemy territory within minutes. At the time, India allowed a team of Pakistani investigators to visit the airbase and collect “evidence” over a course of three days.
But this time, social and mainstream media are demanding war. Catchphrases like “hot pursuit”, “surgical strike”, and “covert operations” are being discussed with as much alacrity as 140 characters permit.
Because, for the very first time, the call for retribution has came from within the Indian government.
Tough Message Versus War Mongering
For a Prime Minister who was making surprise flyby visits to Lahore last Christmas, it was imperative for Narendra Modi to send out a tough message following the shock and anger of the audacious attack on the airbase in Uri.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar tempered his “India would not be deterred by was Pakistan brandishing nuclear weapons” with “Sometimes I can have a knee-jerk reaction too, but we are a responsible nation.”
Home Minister Rajnath Singh indicated how India would handle the situation diplomatically when called for Pakistan to be identified as a terrorist state.
If Winston Churchill said “jaw jaw is better than war war”, BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav advocated the exact opposite when he demanded “for one tooth, the complete jaw.”
The Media Showdown
Meanwhile, the Nation’s self-appointed conscience-keeper Arnab Goswami declared “we need to cripple them, bring them down to their knees.” shortly after Pakistan expectedly rejected the “baseless and irresponsible accusations being levelled by senior officials in Prime Minister Modi’s government.”
From calling India’s allegations “premature” to claiming the Uri attack could well have been an “inside job” by Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), Pakistani media returned the rhetoric in equal measure.
Bravado at UNGA
But the diplomatic positions of the two countries were stated when the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) convened in New York two days after the Uri attack.
During his 20-minute speech, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif glorified slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani as a “young leader”, extended full “support to the demand of the Kashmiri people for self-determination” and demanded an “independent inquiry into the extra-judicial killings.”
Responding to the Pakistan Prime Minister, MoS in the Ministry of External Affairs, MJ Akbar called Sharif’s homage to Burhan Wani “self-incrimination”.
We heard the glorification of a terrorist. Wani is declared commander of Hizbul, widely acknowledged as a terror group. It is shocking that a leader of a nation can glorify a self-advertised terrorist at such a forum. This is self-incrimination by Pakistan PM.MJ Akbar
But Eenam Gambhir’s takedown of the Pakistan Prime Minister is what memorable headlines are made of.
The world has not yet forgotten that the trail of that dastardly attack (September 11) led all the way to Abbottabad in Pakistan…The land of Taxila, one of the greatest learning centres of ancient times, is now host to the Ivy League of terrorism. It attracts aspirants and apprentices from all over the world.Eenam Gambhir, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of India at the U.N
Where Do We Stand Today?
With the Indian media discussing a counter-attack, Pakistan decided to further fuel tensions by landing fighter jets onto major highways. Described by the establishment as a “routine exercise” code named “High Mark”, it blocked highways and led tot he closure of commercial airspace across several regions of the country and triggered a sudden drop in Pakistan’s stock market.
The Indian Army reviewed its “operational readiness” along the Line of Control. Troops were redeployed and there has been some forward movement of ammunition and fuel dumps. High-level meetings with the Prime Minister and national security adviser Ajit Doval ruled out large scale troop mobilisation. But “covert or overt strikes” are reportedly on the table.
On Thursday, the Indian Navy issued a high alert for coastal areas after school children claimed to have seen four men moving suspiciously near a naval facility in Uran, 35 kilometres from Central Mumbai. Schools and some public buildings in the area were shut while a manhunt was conducted, and security was tightened at other coastal facilities.