The surgical strike on terrorist launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on the night of 27th-28th September was to neutralize those bases, but the impact was far more than the death of the terrorists.
The cross de-facto-border strike has done more for neutralizing Pakistan’s psychological war against India than any other single event in recent times.
Pakistan had been relentlessly making efforts to smear India’s reputation at every international forum since the killing of the self-styled Hizbul Mujahideen commander in Jammu and Kashmir Burhan Wani on July 8 July by Indian security forces.
As a propaganda effort, the social media boosted his image while he was living and more so after his death.
Almost on a daily basis, Pakistan’s foreign office, social media warriors, jehadi leaders, politicians and even Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif issued statements denouncing India and its human rights record.
It encouraged stone pelters in the Kashmir Valley. Jehadi militants infiltrated into the funeral processions to encourage the raising of pro-Pakistan slogans. Jammu and Kashmir seemed to be sliding into the 1990’s like phase.
Nawaz Sharif sent emissaries to foreign capitals and International organizatons to besmirch India’s reputation. But to no avail. Whether at the UN or in other country capitals, Pakistan found itself isolated. A recent article in the ‘Dawn’ published in Pakistan claims that in an internal meeting chaired by the Pakistan Prime Minister on the 10th of October some opposition leaders commented on the utter loneliness of being Pakistan today.
Promoting Burhan Wani as a ‘martyr’ who fell to Indian bullets was a psy-war operation launched by the Pakistani state. This was followed by terror strikes by the cross border terror-jehadis on Indian Army camps, the worst being in Uri on 18th September that resulted in the death of 19 Indian soldiers.
The Uri attack shocked India. It was a terrible blow on a nation’s pride to have its soldiers killed in its own land by foreign terrorists. The attack had to be avenged in some manner that would restore the confidence of the Indian people in its armed forces, in its ability to protect its borders and the safety and security of its citizens. The political leadership of the country and the state also felt shaken by the incident.
The success of the surgical strike on terror launch pads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir ten days after Uri on September 28-29 was announced by the Director General of Military Operations, Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh. The Government of India had authorized the Director of Military Operations to brief the media soon after the surgical strike. The response was the first of its kind as has been corroborated by strategic experts and retired army generals. We suffered no casualties. The Pakistani establishment has been mired in confusion ever since Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh’s briefing. Denying the attacks, then being affronted, then mobilizing troops on the border and ramping up its war rhetoric.
India has been able to successfully prove its case to the world community that it can’t any longer take hits on its armed forces by jehadi terrorists from across the border. In a time and era long gone, India would have been swamped by calls from world leaders criticizing the cross LoC action. Today, there is negligible support for violent secessionist movements and zero tolerance for states that support terrorism.
Pakistan’s psy-war efforts have failed. There is empathy towards India and annoyance at Pakistan for not being able to mend its ways.
It is, however, disconcerting how some politicians in the country have added muscle to Pakistani propaganda by calling for visual proof of the cross LoC strikes. Yes, it is necessary to hold the Army accountable to action just like the police or intelligence organizations, but it is also important to understand the need for respecting the secrecy that is sometimes necessary in operational matters. Some details have to be kept secret.
As a person who conducted communications for the army during the 1965 and the 1971 India-Pakistan wars, and the proxy war effort by Pakistan during the Kashmir conflict from 1989 till the elections in Jammu and Kashmir in 1996, I would like to state that not all operations against the adversary are covered visually as they take place.
To recall, the government made a mistake in allowing the media to cover the police action during 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. TV channels were allowed to cover the action live. Towards the end of the operation, we got to know that the coverage was viewed across the border by the planners who were sitting in a master control room giving orders to the terrorists on how to conduct the operation .
Details of the weapons that the security forces had, their positions and their numbers were available to the terrorists through the visuals telecast live by television channels. The army, the air force and naval commandos were doing their assigned tasks, but they were covered live by the media.
When Indian agencies became aware that those who were directing the terrorist operation were giving direction to the terrorists after viewing the coverage, the television channels were asked to observe restraint. But the damage was already done. It is possible that the army and the government are withholding the visuals of the LoC surgical strike because it would divulge information useful to terrorists in Pakistan. Discretion is the better part of valor.
It is wishful thinking that Pakistan would put an end to the proxy war effort in Jammu and Kashmir, or that it would scale down the psywar to promote militancy in the state. Pakistan has to now deal with an adversary who will not shy away from offence plus defence, and would match or even better every move.