As I came back home that afternoon, my wife excitedly told me as she opened the door that there had been a “surgical strike” across the LoC (Line of Control in Jammu & Kashmir). The TV was on and I asked her whether there had been any retaliatory nuclear bombings or missile (tactical or otherwise) attacks. She didn’t know. She had just heard of the “strike” when I rang the bell. I was expecting the worst.
Surgical strikes meant getting into the enemy territory and excising the cancerous infestations. However charitable one might be, such a strike also means breaching the LoC that was sort of the international border which was a serious matter. The Pakistani terrorists were being pushed across the LoC but did the Pakistani Army ever breach it? No, perhaps not always; they only fired across it to spread a cover in the darkness of night to facilitate the Jaish or Lashkar or Hisbul terrorists’ to infiltrate. India crossing the LoC has been very rare and if it happened this time it was very unusual indeed.
The way the Pakistani Defense Minister was talking during an interview over a Pakistani channel just a day earlier I thought Delhi, independent India’s capital that was so seven times over and had melted away in the hoary past, had once again become history. He must have ordered a “jawabi mooh tor hamla” (a strong jaw-smashing retaliatory attack). But this did not seem to have happened till then. No, it had not materialized; at least the news channels were not talking about it. They did not show any mushroom cloud over Delhi or for that matter, over Mumbai or any anywhere else in Indian territory.
Even after 72 hours there was no “jawabi hamla”. In fact, reports published say that the terrorist camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) had been shifted away from near the LoC after the army carried out the surgery despite the assurance of the Indian Director General of Military Operations to his counterpart in Pakistan that there was no plan for another such strike for the time being. However, while some terrorists fled away from near the LoC, a fidayeen strike took place near Baramula where an Indian soldier was killed and two of the unknown numbers of terrorists were gunned down. Others in the party seemed to have fled away. Though his proxies continue to be active in the Kashmir Valley, PM Nawaz Shareef, playing the victim, has been cribbing that a war is being forced on Pakistan.
That India decided to walk across the LoC was something that was unthinkable. For years we had observed the doctrine of “strategic restraint”. Of late, it appeared that the ISI proxies could march across the Line, inflict mayhem and get back with impunity. But we would stomach it all. Even the transgression in Pathankot did not elicit any reaction. We seemed to be playing by the rules: inquiring, collecting evidence and compiling facts that could prove Pakistan’s complicity and hand the dossiers to Pakistan. But Pakistan, or rather its Deep State, always procrastinated to respond if not rejecting the reports and evidences handed over to them. Even the 26/11 dossier handed over years ago has not been acted upon.
During Kargil conflict, the fourth attempt by Pakistan to wrest Kashmir away from India, too, our soldiers died but they were prevented from crossing the LoC. What is more, even the Indian Air Force when it was brought on to the conflict zone was asked not to cross the Line of Control. It was a full-scale war and yet there was this “restraint” in force. Perhaps the government was under compulsion as it was under the US sanctions imposed after the 1998 Pokharan nuclear test and did not want to attract the odium of being an aggressor
This time, too, the Uri invaders had expected the same lukewarm response and had not factored in the anger that had been provoked as a result of the loss of as many as 19 of our army men in their cowardly attack. It not only broke the patience of the people as well as that of the Army and so, despite the threatened use of tactical nuclear weapons or whatever, the country took a calculated risk and the Army, supported by the strong political will, lunged into the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir which, in any case, is Indian territory grabbed by Pakistan, to neutralize the terrorists in their camps. That it did not hold on to the area says much about the grace with which the country acts even in the face of immense provocation. One might recall that after the 1965 War the strategic Haji Peer Pass practically overlooking the Uri town captured after a hardly fought battle was returned to Pakistan as a sequel to the Tashkent settlement.
But, despite the Indian Army’s one of the rare breaches of the LoC the nuclear toys of Pakistan seemed to have remained mothballed. And why wouldn’t they be so well preserved? Reports have been circulating that the North Korean atomic tests were, in fact, Pakistani bombs. Another report, I think of the Guardian, said the talk of use of the “tactical nuclear” weapons of Pakistan was premature as these were still not ready. While writing about it in the Guardian the correspondent forthrightly said that since its creation Pakistan had mastered the art of using bluff and bluster. The repeated threat by its Defense Minister and Security Advisor were nothing but hollow threats. After all even if they had them in their arsenal, their use would have entailed their country’s practical extinction with only some damage to India, mammoth as it appears and actually is when compared to their country.
That explained the absence of the mushroom clouds over India. But Pakistan’s Army is kind of a never-say-die character. Surely, they will keep trying some trick or the other in pursuit of their unfinished agenda of inflicting thousand cuts and bleed India dry. One cannot come across perhaps a more sadistic nation.