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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Another surgical strike: Indian Army Chief threatens Pakistan again

News Analysis |

The Chief of the Indian Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat, has said that India needs to launch another surgical strike against terrorists based in Pakistan. He further added that the situation at the border with Pakistan won’t improve unless the Pakistan government can control its military and its intelligence service. He gave these remarks in an interview to India Today TV. The threat follows another previous statement by the Indian Army Chief in which he had vowed to make Pakistan “feel the same pain”. The threats come in the backdrop of Pakistani peace venture that was refused by New Delhi.

The new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had written to the Indian Prime Minister Modi for resuming peace talks and had called for a meeting of Foreign Ministers at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly being held right now. Initially, the offer was taken up by the Indian government but was hurriedly canceled a few days later. The Indians claimed that the provocation of a Pakistani stamp collection highlighting the Kashmiri freedom struggle and killing of Indian Policemen in Indian Occupied Kashmir was the reason behind the abrupt cancellation. Bipin Rawat alluded to the killing of Policemen in the interview labeling them as ” a sign of desperation”.

The much vaunted surgical strike itself is a controversy inside and outside India. In fact, there are hardly any takers of the Indian claim of a surgical strike outside its territory.

However, these claims were met with skepticism by many. The stamp collection in question was published on July 24, a day before the Pakistani elections that brought the current Pakistani government to power while there have been a number of violent attacks in IOK in the past few months which predate the government’s decision to schedule the meeting.

India added another incident to the list later on which was the alleged killing and beheading of an Indian soldier at the hands of Pakistani Army personnel at the border. Interestingly, just days before the Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had declared in a TV show that India was beheading Pakistani soldiers but not displaying them. This was the first confirmation by a minister-level official of atrocities taking place at their own hands.

The subsequent response to the refusal and belligerent measures from India was hard-hitting. The Pakistani Prime Minister cited the narrow-mindedness and lack of vision of the Indian ruling elite as a cause of refusal. The Federal Minister for information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudry blamed the Modi regime diversionary tactics from the Rafale scandal as a possible motive.

The Pakistan Army too responded to the Indian Army Chief’s threats. Maj Gen Ghafoor, the director general (DG) of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said that Pakistan is a nuclear power and its desire for peace should not be misconstrued as weakness.

The statement of the Indian Army Chief seems to be loaded with patriotic jingoism that usually drives anti-Pakistan sentiment in India. The need for another surgical strike complements the need to put Pakistan in its place that is largely espoused by Bipin’s civilian superiors. The much vaunted surgical strike itself is a controversy inside and outside India. In fact, there are hardly any takers of the Indian claim of a surgical strike outside its territory. The UN, in fact, stated that it had not witnessed any such event in contradiction to New Delhi’s claim that led to an angry outburst from the Indian UN representative.

Read more: Indian Army Chief says India has an option of Surgical Strikes…

government for being “anti-national”. For many, current Indian jingoism is caused by a conglomerate of internal and external factors. The major one is the upcoming 2019 elections as well as a continuous failure of the Indian state to pacify Indian Occupied Kashmir. It can be asserted that Bipin Rawat’s frustration with “cross-border terrorism” is a tacit admission of India’s failure to secure the disputed territory despite intense militarization.

The incumbent BJP government of India came to power riding on a populist wave that was partly sustained by a need “to teach the Pakistanis a lesson in their own language” as well as anti-corruption. Both these factors have risen at the end of its tenure with a mega-scandal unfolding in the form of the Rafale deal and Islamabad’s steadfast refusal to kowtow to New Delhi’s strategic desires.

Read more: Why India’s surgical strike threat is a dangerous bluff?

For the Indian BJP regime, the trial for its political survival has started. Faced with a bolstered national opposition the Modi administration is desperate to divert domestic attention. In fact, the Surgical Strike label was used in a rather unconventional manner by the Opposition Leader Rahul Gandhi in his tweet lambasting the Rafale scandal.

It seems that faced with a reinvigorated opposition as well as an unyielding Pakistani government the BJP government has been reduced to jingoistic and bombastic messages for which the Indian Army is being used as a political tool.