With the cross-LoC strikes alongside concerted diplomatic moves, the Modi government has certainly reset the parameters of engagement with Pakistan. But it is too soon for chest thumping exercises or declarations of victory. It’s to be noted that Pakistan has made no significant – or even insignificant – concessions on terror yet. It is mired too deep in anti-India narratives and changing that could be a long haul. In that context an entirely inane and avoidable political argument has broken out at home, over providing ‘proof’ of the surgical strikes. It exposes, once again, the hyper-competitiveness and lack of strategic sophistication of India’s political class.
AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal wants the government to release more evidence of the surgical strikes, while Congress’s Sanjay Nirupam has suggested they didn’t occur at all. Congress later disassociated itself from his remarks but mentioned three dates when the army had undertaken similar operations during UPA’s tenure.
BJP has lashed out at the opposition parties, accusing them of delivering a publicity coup to Pakistan and doubting the army. However, poll-bound UP has seen the ruling party put up hoardings with photographs of Modi alongside congratulatory messages for the strike. Add to this the fact that senior ministers such as Manohar Parrikar have been indulging in a fair amount of chest thumping over the military operation. BJP should have anticipated the opposition’s counter-strike before trying to take political ownership of the surgical strikes.
Releasing evidence of the army operation – which would also reveal operational details – isn’t in national interest. BJP should have simply cited operational sensitivities to quash the debate. After all, the idea behind the surgical strikes was to send a strong message to Pakistan’s deep state – and that will get through regardless of whether it is acknowledged or denied. Pakistan’s denying the strike can be a way of de-escalating the situation and that suits India too. That Pakistan has shut airspace over Lahore and Karachi and called for an ‘all parties conference’ on India is evidence enough that something has happened. Opposition parties should get that this is a military operation and not a trial in a court of law where soldiers double up as CBI investigators .
Given the gravity of the current situation with Pakistan stepping up cross-border firing and the government having to evacuate border villages, one is playing with lives here. Domestic political unity is imperative. Let’s choose other matters for political jockeying and the customary tu tu main main.
The Article First Appeared In TOI
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