The BJP has done enormous disservice to both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian Army with its vitriolic attacks on Congress and AAP leaders over the surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads across the LoC. Modi’s fiat to his colleagues not to talk out of turn is welcome and timely.
Sanjay Nirupam of the Congress, for reasons that are bizarre, dubbed the surgical strikes a “fake”. But he spoke for himself. Barring him, no political leader doubted the army’s version of how it entered Pakistani territory on the night of September 28-29, destroyed terrorist launch pads, killed an unspecified number of terrorists and returned without suffering losses.
Although official Islamabad aimed to debunk what it said were Indian claims, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gave the game away in the immediate aftermath of the military operation. Sharif’s first statement spoke of “naked aggression” by India, words that clearly indicated that what had taken place was much more than the routine cross-border firing and clashes.
Pakistan’s vehement denial of the surgical strikes was understandable. Politically, it would be suicidal not just for Sharif but for the military as well to admit that Indian troops did cross the border, killed terrorists patronised by Islamabad and went back. Understandably, Pakistan merely admitted to the death of two of its soldiers in cross-border firing by India.
It was only when Islamabad flew a small army of Pakistani and foreign journalists to the frontline to claim that no surgical strikes ever happened is when many in India began hoping that the government would make public the video the army had, to puncture the Pakistani denials.
What is so unpatriotic about this?
When US Special Forces stormed Osama bin Laden’s hideout at Abbottabad in Pakistan and shot him dead, with President Barack Obama watching the action live, the release of the video made all the difference to the world. This is exactly what many Indians wished to happen vis-à-vis the surgical strikes.
For reasons best known to BJP’s political strategists, the party decided to turn a national event into a party show, denouncing people in the opposition as anti-nationals and Pakistani agents. In the process, the BJP appears to forget that one can be politically opposed to the ruling party and yet laud its Prime Minister for the surgical strikes and more.
This is exactly what Atal Bihari Vajpayee did when he called Indira Gandhi a ‘Durga’ after the 1971 war though he did not see eye to eye with her on so many issues. As Vajpayee pointed out, a political foe is an opponent, not an enemy.
Going by the so-called logic of those-seeking-more-than-what-we-have-told-you-are-traitors, journalist Praveen Swami must be guilty — for finding out, through his sources in Jammu and Kashmir and in Pakistani Kashmir, what really happened during the surgical strikes.
The Indian state has many military and intelligence operations to its credit, particularly in the immediate neighbourhood. Much of this remains covered in layers of secrecy — for obvious reasons. The surgical strikes — from whatever has been revealed thus far — were long overdue. Seeing the Indian Army in action in “Azad Kashmir” will gladden the hearts of millions in India.
Heaping abuse on P. Chidambaram (who must be privy to many Indian state secrets) and Arvind Kejriwal makes no sense because they said nothing that was remotely anti-India. They may have views the BJP may not agree with, but that is another issue.
The BJP must decide whether it is correct to take a narrow partisan view by putting up hoardings of the military operation along with pictures of its local leaders before accusing others of doing “politics” over the surgical strikes.
(M.R. Narayan Swamy is an Executive Editor at IANS. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at [email protected])