Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal |
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is struggling to overwhelm the opposition parties’ grilling over his illicit involvement in the 36 Rafale fighter jets’ worth $8.6-billion deal. He is obstinate to divert the Indians attention from the internal corruption and misgoverning issues toward Pakistan.
By diverting people’s attention to Pakistan, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politicians are able to distract people attention from the Modi government’s internal misgoverning during the forthcoming States and National elections. Therefore, the Modi government has increased the warmongering and also announced to celebrate September 29, as a “Surgical Strikes Day.”
The BJP allies and workers have been convincing the people of India that Prime Minister Modi has the political courage to take a ‘very bold decision’ of approving surgical strikes against Pakistan.
The ‘Surgical Strike Day’ was celebrated with great fanfare, during the last week of September 2018. Prime Minister Modi inaugurated the “Parakram Parv” exhibition at the Combined Commanders Conference in Jodhpur on September 28, 2018. This exhibition was arranged to celebrate the second anniversary of Surgical Strikes conducted on the intervening night of September 28-29, 2016.
Defence Minister of India Nirmala Sitharaman stated: “The ‘Parakram Parv’ is being celebrated in over 50 cities across the country to show that we are not going to accept a blatant cowardly act of a neighbor getting into our Army base and killing soldiers who were resting and unarmed.” She added: “As the terror attack happened inside the base on unarmed soldiers, it was necessary for the Army to strike at the enemy in its territory.”
The Indian University Grants Commission directed to all Universities in India to celebrate September 29 as ‘Surgical Strike Day’. On September 27, 2018, the University Grants Commission Circular stated: “A multimedia exhibition will be organized around India Gate on 29 September. Similar exhibitions may be organized in States, Union Territories, important towns and cantonments across the country.
The institutions should encourage students and faculty members to visit these exhibitions.” Consequently, the Universities organized events involving retired army personnel nationalistic speeches, NCC cadets’ parades, as well as militarily-related poster-making and postcard-writing competitions.
“No government has ever been more shameless in the milking of India’s military for political benefit as this one, but this cynical exercise takes the proverbial cake.”
Prime Minister Modi and his cohorts have been endeavoring to establish fictitious surgical strikes conducted in September 2016 as an authentic military operation for cashing it in the state and national election campaigns. The BJP allies and workers have been convincing the people of India that Prime Minister Modi has the political courage to take a ‘very bold decision’ of approving surgical strikes against Pakistan.
On July 11, 2018, Former Army chief Dalbir Singh stated: “It was a very bold decision of our prime minister to approve the surgical strikes. So, the credit firstly goes to our prime minister. The credit also goes to my subordinates, my able commanders and brave soldiers who executed these surgical strikes.”
Many Indian politicians and analysts objected the celebration of “Surgical Strike Day”. According to them “the so-called surgical strikes were a strategic failure.” The Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi dubbed the surgical strikes as “Khoon ki Dalaali”. Sandeep Bhardwaj concluded: “To be sure, celebrating the surgical strike day—the day India gave a “strong answer” to Pakistan, according to Prime Minister Narendra Modi—may prove to be politically popular and an opportunity for self-congratulation.
However, from a goal-oriented perspective, the choice to carry out the strike has proved to be an abject failure.” Shashi Tharoor, the Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha from Thiruvananthapuram opined: “No government has ever been more shameless in the milking of India’s military for political benefit as this one, but this cynical exercise takes the proverbial cake.”
It had successfully cashed Surgical Strikes issue during the campaign for elections in state assemblies since September 2016.
He added: “This kind of pre-emptive action had been undertaken several times before by our army with no publicity, but the BJP government, anxious to live up to its belligerent past rhetoric, decided to beat the tom-toms. The evocative term “surgical strike” was used; posters and hoardings went up hailing the government’s action; the military was brazenly instrumentalized in the BJP’s campaign for Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections two months later.”
Bhupinder Pal concurred Shashi Tharoor stance that: “These guys are out of a head, they don’t understand that people know that surgical strikes have been done before also but this kind of cheap display & filthy show of narcissism was not being done. These acts of self-proclamation give more negative feelers than something else.”
Read more: The Reality of Surgical Strikes …
The preceding discussion certifies, Pakistan’s claim that India did not conduct surgical strikes in September 2016. Despite it, the Modi government had used surgical strikes as a potent political tool to demonstrate that it had the political courage to take a ‘very bold decision’ against Pakistan.
It had successfully cashed Surgical Strikes issue during the campaign for elections in state assemblies since September 2016. For instance, in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), 2017-election BJP won 312 out of 403 seats.
To conclude, the Indian ruling elite’s celebration of Surgical Strikes Day alarm and compel Pakistan defense policymakers to take countermeasures for ensuring people of Pakistan that they are cognizant and ready to check any Indian military adventurism. Indeed, such action and reaction military tactics upsurge the tension and temperature between the strategic competitors and increase the probability of inadvertent war.
Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal is Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He is also an advisor on Non-Proliferation to SASSI, London and a course coordinator at Foreign Services Academy for the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Email: email@example.com. This piece was first published in Pakistan Observer. It has been reprinted with permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.