By Saima Ali
Remember what Sun Tzu said in his book entitled “The Art of War”? It begins thus: “All wars are based on deception.”Last month the Indian DGMO, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh proclaimed that the Indian Army performed a ‘surgical strike’ on ‘Terrorist launch pads’ in Pakistan next to the Line of Control (LoC). The statement was met with joy all across India as it was taken at face value and the general public in India felt that Pakistan was given a relevant response after its so-called connection in the Uri attack.
As the term surgical implies, it is a defined military attack on just a legitimate military target. It is usually conducted by air and Special Forces. The idea is to only engage a military installation with surprise and an element of secrecy. Such strikes are usually carried out to remove particular targets and for this reason require a perfect Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance (ISR).The case on the Line of Control; attacks are usually loud with massive fire support. A silent night attack does not go well with the deployment and defense patterns along the heavily fenced LoC. Hence, contact with the Pakistani troops should have been specific. Pakistan, rejecting as ‘baseless’ Indian claims that it carried out surgical strikes in Pakistan, condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations across the LoC.
Although the Indian Army did not endow with the details of the operations and hence many military minds questions remained unanswered. The Pakistani military denied the occurrence of such an attack and with video confirmation showed that Indian shelling was countered successfully. Immediately the news came out, many military question needs authenticity. This is so because the ground situations did not match with the notion of surgical strike taught in various military establishments globally.
What we need to comprehend that Pakistan has been in a state of war for the last 10 years and every encounter that involves India would only make them more eager to demonstrate their ability. Now that is just the army that we are talking about. We have not even have begin to talk about the scores of Jihadist organizations that are being nurtured for specifically this kind of eventuality. And here we are going to try and pretend that Pakistan does not support such organizations. The most important issue is that of Pakistan’s tactical nukes. Logically, no state is fool enough to invest time and money in developing weapons it does not intend to use. They surely will be used in case of a ‘misadventure’.
If Modi is trying to call this a bluff, he is doing so at a very high risk. India cannot afford a war with Pakistan. It fully understands the implications of this an endeavor on its development. India should not try to push the limit too far as if the Modi government opts for a military response, it will be neglecting the wisdom of past Indian Prime Ministers, who recognized the costs of a risky, destabilizing crisis dwarf the scant political, reputational, and coercive effects.
Another important aspect is that Indian media is again creating hype. At the moment, India is refusing to back off and uses the power of their media to spread lies about Pakistan and hence manipulating the state of affairs even more. Their media has already spread lies about the alleged surgical strike that never took place, causing a state of confusion, even embarrassment to India. The Indian affiliate of CNN, recently carried an interview with SP Ghulam, making up a story about a Pakistani police officer ‘confirming’ that surgical strikes took place. After the release, SP Ghulam firmly denied speaking to any Indian journalist. He also expressed his anger over his fake voice making rounds in Indian media. Indian Media has no credibility whatsoever but a Propaganda arm for Indian Government is Shameful indeed. No doubt, India is mostly on the wrong side of the truth or humanity but they keep lying for the sake for national interest no matter how immoral their actions.
BBC reporters on both sides of the border check with the locals and they not aware of any military incursion. So if there is an indication of troop incursion, you should provide the evidence to the public. A senior police officer on the Indian side told BBC reporter that there was heavy artillery fire from the Indian side on Pakistani posts but Indian army did not cross LOC. It all depends on what is the definition of a surgical strike? May be Indian army’s definition is destroying the military posts with long range artillery fire. Modi in a public rally in Lucknow few days ago did not make any reference to the surgical strike.
It would not be wrong to say that LoC is certainly not the place to carry out a classical surgical attack. Since even the legitimate targets were not attacked, the claims by Lt Gen Ranbir are not based on military realities of the Line of Control rather they are based on deception. The UN, in a latest statement, also alluded to a dichotomy between the term used and the situation on ground. Just like any other citizen, we must stand by our country and soldiers but will definitely use our conscience before believing anything on what politicians say.
*Saima Ali works for Strategic Vision Institute Islamabad and can be reached at [email protected]