Military action a message to Pakistan; escalation unlikely: Experts

Written by: IANS
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New Delhi, Sep 29: Indian Army's "surgical strikes" on terrorist launch pads across the Line of Control has sent a message to Pakistan to not take India for granted, security experts said on Thursday, and noted that there may not be escalation in the situation as Islamabad has denied there was any such military action.

The cross-border strikes were carried out on Wednesday night in retaliation for Pakistan-backed terrorist action on Indian soil, the army said.

Military action a message to Pakistan

The Pakistani military, however, said there were no such strikes by India, and "instead there had been cross-border fire initiated and conducted by India which is existential phenomenon."

The Army action came 11 days after the terror attack in Uri that killed 18 soldiers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that those behind the Uri attacks will not go unpunished. Since then, there have been a series of top-level meetings to firm up government's multi-pronged response. India has blamed the Uri terror attack on militants from Pakistan.

Former Army Chief Gen V.P. Malik said that Indian Army's military action was not against Pakistan or the Pakistani army but on terrorist launch pads.

"While India is not interested in the whole situation escalating but if Pakistan does something, we will have to be prepared," Gen Malik told IANS.

Read More: Pakistan military confirms Indian strike, says 2 of its soldiers killed

The general, who was the army chief during the Kargil war, hailed the "first ever" calibrated surgical strike by the army.

"Chances of escalation may be minimal but in such a situation, you cannot rule (that) out. I don't think it is in India's interests to see an escalation but if Pakistan wants it then India will have to be prepared," he added.

C. Uday Bhaskar, security analyst and Director, Society for Policy Studies, said the surgical strike against the terrorist camps announced by the Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO), Lt. Gen Ranbir Singh, has confirmed what had been anticipated over the last few days - namely that the Modi team would 'respond' in an appropriate manner to the enormity of the Uri terror attack.

Read More: Surgical Strike - How the drama unfolded

"Two aspects merit notice. India has confirmed that the attack was against terror infrastructure along the Line of Control (LoC) - and that the objective had been realized. It was further added by the Indian DGMO that he had informed his Pakistani counterpart," Uday Bhaskar said.

"With this two messages have been conveyed. One, India does not wish to escalate the military operation and the target was terror - and not the territorial integrity or sovereignty of Pakistan. Two, the onus for restraint or escalation is now on Rawalpindi - the GHQ of the Pak military," he added.

Uday Bhaskar said that the domestic political message is clear.

"PM Modi is indeed committed to defend India's security interests - and will take firm action when required - as promised during his election campaign. However, what needs to be tracked now is the response from Pakistan and the sub-continental trajectory that the post surgical strike days will follow," he said.

A former government security official, who did not want to be named, said that Pakistan has reduced its options by denying the Indian military action.

"I don't know the reason why they have denied. But by doing so, they have sort of reduced their options," the official told IANS.

He said the strikes were decisive and bold and will "teach Pakistan not to take us for granted".

Former Foreign Secretary Shashank hailed the army action and said India has adopted a comprehensive strategy in the wake of the Uri terror attack.

"There has been a comprehensive and coordinated strategy on all directions - strategic, diplomatic as also economic. This will ensure that terrorists will think twice now before infiltrating to India," Shashank told IANS.

Referring to the 2004 agreement - when he was India's Foreign Secretary - in which Pakistan had promised not to allow its territory or territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India, Shashank said the onus was on Pakistan to prevent any escalation.

"The strike was on the terrorists and not on Pakistan. Since they did not take action against the terrorists, India had to," he said.

"As regards escalation, that entirely depends on how Pakistan reacts not just to the military action but also to India not attending the Saarc summit and also reviewing the Indus Waters Treaty," he added.

Brigadier S.K. Chatterjee (retd) said it was "not wise" on the part of Pakistan to deny the surgical strikes.

"I don't see the situation escalating because Pakistan has denied there has been any such surgical strike. If they escalate on their own, the international community is bound to question their motive," Brig Chatterjee told IANS.

Brig Chatterjee said India's retaliation cannot be limited to just cross border strikes "where you manage to kill just foot soldiers."

"We have to try and strike their (terrorist) leadership in Pakistan, through covert means or whatever means. Only then it will get into their heads that they cannot continue sponsoring terrorism," he said.


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