Narendra Modi-led NDA government wants to limit tensions with Pakistan after a successful surgical strike at the terrorists sheltered along LoC, according to two top officials.
One of the officials, who are both part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government shaping a new, more robust strategy towards Pakistan, said India remained focused on rapid economic growth, and any conflict would deflect it from that path.
“War is not in India’s interest at this point,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“We want to build comprehensive national power – economic, military and diplomatic. We need time, but if we stay on this path, the power differential with Pakistan will become so high by 2025 that you don’t have to fight a war,” the official said.
Modi’s government, breaking with a traditional policy of military restraint, last month, sent the Army in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, targetting and destroying terror launch pads and killing terrorists.
Pakistan said it had nothing to do with the attack on the base and has denied any Indian strike took place across the Line of Control. It said it would repel any aggressive action from India.
On Friday, Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria said India was trying to divert attention from a crackdown on violent protests this summer against the army in its part of Muslim-majority Kashmir.
“Pakistan has already rejected the baseless claims of surgical strikes. As we emphasized earlier, India is desperate to divert attention of the international community from grave human rights violations,” Zakaria told a news briefing.
India has not offered any evidence for the cross-border raid in Kashmir, although military officials have said there is footage from helmet-mounted cameras on the raiding party as well as from drones.
U.S. diplomats and an intelligence official in New Delhi and Washington have confirmed there was an Indian action across the Line of Control, but details were not available.
Pakistan’s military declined to comment for this article.
FEARS OF NEW WAR
Soon after the army base attack in Uri which killed 19 Indian soldiers, some officials in the Centre said the government would act with restraint towards Pakistan.
The subsequent announcement of surgical strike reignited fears of an escalation in tensions between the countries, but the second official said they were overblown.
“There is no concern, the chapter is over,” the official said referring to the surgical strike. “The issue is not what India will decide; the issue is whether Pakistan can act on the basis of rationality.”
India has long demanded that Pakistan act against militant groups operating from its soil, including by going after the leaders of Lashkar-e-Taiba, which it holds responsible for the 2008 attack on Mumbai that killed 166 people.
Pakistan denies giving material support to fighters in Kashmir, and says India has not provided evidence linking it to militant violence in India.
The first Indian official said the government would respond to cross-border terrorism more forcefully than previous governments, and not be cowed by fear.
“It has been a low-cost option for Pakistan; keep sending these terrorists into Kashmir and pin down our army. We are going to raise the costs for them.”
Terrorists have stepped up attacks in recent weeks, although the level of violence is a fraction of its peak in the 1990s and early 2000s, when hundreds of people were killed each year.
The first government official and an army officer in Kashmir said there were an estimated 250 terrorists inside the Kashmir Valley, the highest number in six years, and that they expected more attacks in the coming weeks.