Modi line prevails, India crosses Rubicon

Last Updated 29 September 2016, 19:23 IST
As soon as Lt General Ranbir Singh, Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), announced that the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC), Google search engine was active with many people trying to understand the meaning of the term ‘surgical strike’.

A surgical strike is a surprise military attack intended to damage a specific target, said defence experts to underscore the element of surprise involved in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision. Also, the government was quick to emphasise that though this is directed purely towards terrorists, it is not a full-scale military action.

In the sense, it was not to target civilians or damage surrounding structures, vehicles, buildings or the general public infrastructure. As the military announcement put it, the army launched surgical strikes on terror launch pads or camps used to facilitate infiltration of terrorists across the border in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) as diplomatic efforts had not borne results. Pakistan had remained impervious to New Delhi’s call to rein in the trained gunmen. 

When least expected
Significantly, it was to convey a message when Pakistan least expected it. Ironically, it came on a day after that country’s defence minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif threatened  publicly to unleash nukes against India.

It came just when it appeared that the government was only exploring non-military response to the September 18 terror strike on the Uri army base. It was a first since Pakistan has been accused by India of exporting terror to India right from the 1990s.
Undoubtedly, as top aides said, Modi signaled India crossing the “Rubicon”, entering hitherto an unexplored territory, both literally as well as figuratively.

But it also marked the political leadership agreeing with the assessment of the military. The time was ripe to convey to Islamabad that India’s tolerance level to terrorist strikes was nearly exhausted. “Enough was enough,” a Union minister said.

Modi wanted the DGMO’s statement to elaborate on the objectives of the government as well as the military. The Indian Army had to conduct the surgical strikes at several of these launch pads to pre-empt infiltration by terrorists. That summed up the reasons for the government’s decision to act now.
(Published 29 September 2016, 19:23 IST)

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