In the wee hours of Sunday morning, four heavily armed militants from Pakistan raided an Indian army base camp near the small town of Uri in Kashmir and killed 17 soldiers. The attack was from behind when the soldiers were asleep, and since the raiders were using incendiary ammunition, all the tents in the camp caught fire almost instantly. As a result, 14 soldiers were burnt alive and three soldiers got killed in gun battles. Those who have kept a close watch on India’s recent bilateral relations with Pakistan are unlikely to be greatly surprised at what happened on Sunday morning. There are three facts of life about Pakistan that one cannot afford to overlook. The first is that Pakistan has been exporting terrorism to other countries (mainly to India) for quite some time now. It is astonishing as to how the United States of America can keep on ignoring this facet of Pakistan’s overseas activities. Secondly, having neglected the business of development for decades, Pakistan cannot countence the kind of progress that its neighbour has made in less than seven decades. Thirdly, having been chosen by the United States as partner in the ‘global war against terrorism’ Pakistan has certain delusions about the extent to which Pakistan’s attacks on India will be tolerated by the world community.
Pakistan has described as “unfounded and premature” India’s charge that it was behind the Uri attack that killed 17 soldiers (the death toll now stands at 18), with its army demanding “actioble intelligence” to support New Delhi’s accusation. Pakistan will be uble to sustain this stance for long, considering the weapons and food and medicine packets with Pakistani markings found on the four raiders killed by Indian troops.
The Indian reactions to the treacherous raid on sleeping soldiers have been predictable. There have been strong condemtions by the President of India, our Prime Minister and Home Minister. President Prab Mukherjee said: “India will not be cowed down by such attacks; we will thwart the evil designs of terrorists and their backers.” Prime Minister rendra Modi said: “We strongly condemn the cowardly terror attack in Uri. I assure the tion that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished.” Union Home Minister Rajth Singh said: “Pakistan is a terrorist state, and it should be identified and isolated as such... I am deeply disappointed with Pakistan’s continued and direct support to terrorism and terrorist groups.” BJP general secretary Ram Madhav even wanted a “complete jaw for one tooth.” Our leaders have never been at a loss for words. At such times of despicable attacks by Pakistan, there has never been a dearth of rhetoric. More often than not there is talk of restraint in respect of a country that identifies restraint with weakness. Have our leaders forgotten that that this is not the first such attack by Pakistan. Apart from bomb attacks on civilians in different parts of the country in the past, have we already forgotten the attack by Pakistani terrorists on the Pathankot air base of January 2, 2016 in which seven security personnel were killed? Sunday’s raid on Uri was thus the third attack on our armed forces personnel carried out successfully. Are words threatening reprisals enough in the face of such dastardly attacks? The tion waits to see what its rewards are for exercising restraint every time in the face of such provocative action. The tion wants to see how the Prime Minister intends to punish those behind “this despicable attack”. We all know that we are being pushed to do a collective tight-rope walk for which we are not prepared. After this third attack on our armed forces personnel (have we forgotten the killing of five Indian soldiers in 2013 by the Pakistan Army Border Action Team and the beheading of two soldiers?) the time for restraint is over. Pakistan must be answered in the language that an exporter of terrorism understands.
It is reasoble to expect more such despicable attacks from Pakistan. What needs to be ensured is a greater level of alertness and preparedness. There must be regular arrangements of well-armed night guard platoons that will keep watch when the rest of the soldiers are sleeping. They must be ready to spring into action before a single life is lost. Henceforth, all militant raiders must be stung with the reception they never expected.