Bengaluru, Sept 30: "Fire at will. If they fire one, you fire two." This is what Ajit Doval, the National Security Advisor had told the Border Security Force last year after Pakistan resorted to cross border firing. The surgical strike that was carried out by India on Wednesday night once again reflects the NSA's policy that Pakistan is getting out of control and there is a urgent need to move away from the policy of strategic restraint.
If one looks at the events that unfolded after the Director General of Military Operations announced on Thursday that a surgical strike was carried out, it is clear that India had its tracks covered.
The response from the United States of America was not adverse. In fact during the conversation between Doval and his US counterpart, Susan Rice, the latter emphasised Pakistan needs to do more to clean up its terror sanctuaries.
The statements made by Johny Kirby, the US state department spokesperson, also did not criticise India's action. Instead, Kirby termed the Uri attack as a horrific one and condemned terrorism in all forms. He, however, cautioned both sides and said that the issue should not escalate.
A clear shift in policy
Since Doval was appointed the National Security Advisor, there has been a clear shift in India's policy. He had made it clear that with Pakistan it is high time that India moves out of its policy of strategic restraint. Unprovoked firing from across the border or terrorist strikes carried out by Pakistan must go unpunished, he felt.
India did exercise a great deal of restraint after the Pathankot attack and hoped that Pakistan would crack down on terror sanctuaries. After all Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the ground work for peace following the surprise visit to Pakistan just a week before the attack.
However, India increasingly found Pakistan becoming more provocative in nature. Terror attacks in Kashmir followed by stage managing the unrest had become too much for India to handle. The Uri attack was the final resort and India decided that the time for strategic restraint was over.
The offensive defence doctrine
Doval follows an offensive defence policy. According to this doctrine, India will strike pre-emptively at Pakistan's vital installations and terror camps across the Line of Control (Salahuddin's nuclear threat: What did Modi-Doval do to rattle Pakistan so much?).
He says that there is no need to take Pakistan's aggression lightly.
Even when Pakistan indulged in cross border firing, Doval had told the BSF not to exercise restraint and fire two bullets if they fired one. He even told them not to conduct any flag meetings at such times.
He said that if India continues with its policy of strategic restraint, it would demoralise the forces largely. They should not become sitting ducks due to a restrained policy, he would say.
Following the Uri attack, there was immense pressure on the government to act against Pakistan. While several people sought for overnight action, Doval carefully strategised the next course of action with the Indian army. During the deliberations it was said that India should strike at Pakistan, but it has to be 100 percent successful. India did not want a single casualty.
Further at these meetings the NSA also said that Pakistan should not continue with their terror tactics.
Pakistan keeps hurling the nuclear threat in an attempt to bog India down and this cannot continue at any cost, he also said. He told the army to go all out and carry the operation assuring them of complete backing from the Indian government.