Surgical Strikes on terror launch pads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir by the Indian Army in September last year were unprecedented. The operation not just surprised Pakistan but, for the first time, political leadership in India acknowledged the trans-LoC operations.
Sushant Singh points out in The Indian Express that during 1999 Kargil War, LoC was respected as a “not-to-be-crossed red line by then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, even as Pakistan breached it openly. “This could play a significant role in future Indo-Pak negotiations over Kashmir, where India starts asserting its sovereign claim over the whole of J&K, instead of accepting LoC as a reasonable solution,” he writes.
The Surgical Strikes were carried out to take on terror groups operating from across the border. The Indian Army has not disclosed the number of terrorists who died during the operation. However, the numbers are not as important as the daring strikes themselves.
Lt General D S Hooda, the then Northern Army Commander who planned and oversaw the Surgical Strikes, recently told IE, “the operation was a complete success” and he “would not touch any part of the plan and do it differently”.
He said the operation was very complex as the Army had to strike multiple targets on the same night. “The crucial part about the operation was not about the number of terrorists killed but the safe return of all our soldiers. The operation was very complex with multiple targets to be struck on the same night, each with a unique profile. The difference in time between striking the first and last target was in hours,” Hooda said, adding, “Daybreak had already broken by the time the last of our soldiers were back.”
According to Hooda, India scored a “moral” victory when Pakistan refused to acknowledge the strike. Hooda said that India’s Special Forces went across the Line of Control at multiple places in Pakistan’s 10 Corps (area) on the night of September 29, 2016. And the “operation was very successful”. He likened Surgical Strikes to shattering of the glass ceiling as India’s ‘Special Forces’ have gained “tremendous confidence” to do similar operations again.
In months following the Surgical Strikes, terror attacks in Kashmir didn’t stop. However, the number of terrorists killed since last year has been phenomenal. The Army has lost 69 soldiers in Kashmir after the Surgical Strikes but around 178 terrorists, including some top commanders of banned outfits, have also been killed.
According to IE, military commanders say that they have been successful in killing more terrorists because of the “high morale” after the Surgical Strikes. “The Army feels emboldened with the respect it has earned across the country after the Surgical Strikes,” writes Singh.
A year after Surgical Strikes, the Army is confident of launching another such operation if required. Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat on Monday said Surgical Strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC can be repeated, if necessary. “The strike was a message we wanted to communicate to them and they have understood what we mean…that things could follow up, if required,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.