In a befitting reply to Pakistan, Indian Army on Wednesday carried out a series of surgical strikes against “terrorist launch pads” across the Line of Control in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The latest attack that reportedly made significant causalities has now escalated the tension between the neighbours to the worst point in the last decade. However, on the other side, the direct response from Indian side indicated that Delhi has lost patience after numerous recent cross-border attacks by terrorists from Pakistan. And, indeed, many in India cheered the act believing that their country has responded well this time.
As a matter of fact, this is not the first time the tension between neighbours has turned into conflict. Since partition and the following dispute over Kashmir, reckless insurgent activities and counter insurgency operations have led to huge loss of life among locals and armed forces on both sides. The wars of 1965 and 1971 have witnessed weeks of armed conflict between the border forces and also the latter resulted in the creation of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. The Siachen conflict in 1984 and the Kargil war of 1999 have seen India gaining control over its borders, driving out the Pakistani infiltrators. Most of these being counter-attack against Pakistani infiltrators, India has acquired a justifiable position over Kashmir among world leaders.
As was to be expected, the latest retaliation of India for Uri attack that killed 19 Indian soldiers two weeks back has invited may praises for Prime Minister Narendra Modi from various quarters. Earlier, addressing the people of Kerala during the BJP national council meeting , Modi had promised that Uri attackers will be punished. The diplomatic failures after the Pathankot, Gurdaspur and latest being Uri , pressure was mounting on PM even from his own party for a stern action against terrorism. With this one move, Modi could strengthen his promises on taking firm action against terrorism and also win the support of opposition parties.
In a meeting called by Union Minister Rajnath Singh, the leaders of political parties were briefed by the Army on the surgical strikes. Congratulating the government in its strong action, Congress President Sonia Gandhi described the strike as a “strong message that conveys our country’s resolve to prevent further infiltration and attacks on our security forces and our people.” Meanwhile, SP chief and former union defence minister Mulayam Singh Yadav praised the government saying, “We support the strike by India. We support the government on its stand on Pakistan.”
This rare display of unity that was witnessed between opposition parties and government after the strike gives a much needed face-lift for Modi. In addition to gaining the support of common mass, this prompt reply to Pakistan has strengthened his position in BJP itself. Moreover, this action will also help Modi to silence critics complaining about the “sari and shawl diplomacy.” Besides all these political benefits, the latest strike will definitely act as a turning point in BJP’s battle for Uttar Pradesh scheduled in 2017 set be a semi- final and could well indicate who wins in 2019 . Many believe that current action taken by the government could influence the party’s performance in coming Assembly polls. Amid controversies escalating around cow protection and the large-scale protest by Dalits across the country, the new thread will be possibly placed to boost the confidence of BJP in UP. Then there is the sensitive border state of Punjab also going to the polls in 2017.
Moreover, the latest political situation where Modi wins this political test halfway into his tenure offers India a new arena of diplomatic engagements. The on-going conflict will make India concentrating on bilateral ties with neighbours including China and Afghanistan, and also military cooperation against terrorism across the world.
Following the Uri attack, countries like US, Russia and France had earlier offered support to India, condemning the deadliest attack by Pakistan backed terrorists. The recent counter-strike against the planned attack of terrorists could also help India to convince the world the danger of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism especially since IS too has ties with Pakistan’s ISI. By bringing the attention of world leaders into the links that connecting Pakistan with many terror attacks held worldwide ( Paris , Brussels, London, Germany ) India will be able to set a milestone in its counter-terrorism activities. And, the political supports acquired from world powers over the conflict will now definitely see India initiating new political equations in South Asia.