National Unity Is The Need Of The Hour

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By Shameem faizee

Cross-border terrorism has
been lingering threat to India’s development. No doubt our experience all these
years establishes beyond doubt that force cannot bring an end to terrorism. Nor
mere dialogue which often falls on deaf ears will effectively curb terrorism. Restrained
use of force coupled with continuous dialogue alone can finally succeed even
though the costs towards that end will be tremendous and loss of many innocent
lives along with those of uniformed security personnel.

However, state sponsored
terrorism cannot be allowed. With this premise one finds that the bombing of
the Jaish-e-Mohammad’s allegedly biggest terror training camp in Pakistan’s
Balakot by the India Air Force early on February 26, 2019 seems to have come as
a last resort. The operation 12 days after the Pulwama attack was carried out
by 12 Mirage-2000 fighter jets, which is said to have unleashed five onetonne bombs
on the camp, based 70-km inside the Line of Control (LoC) in the Pakistani
province of Khyber Pakthunkhwa.

It should be noted that the
aerial attack on a target inside Pakistani territory marks a major shift in India’s
counter-terror responses which has been so far restricted to ground operations
across the LoC in Pakistanoccupied Kashmir. There are, however, some key
similarities with the 2016 strikes and previous Indian operations.

The official briefing was restrained
and professional. Indian officials presented it as a “non-military pre-emptive
action” against terrorists and not the Pakistani military based on credible
intelligence that the targeted camp was being used by JeM to train jihadis. The
selection of target and execution, the officials claimed, ensured that there
were no civilian casualties. The attack they said eliminated “a very large number
of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis”.

Defending the air strike the
Indian government has said all other options had been exhausted in making
Islamabad keep its commitments since 2004 on curbing the activities of groups
like the JeM. It cannot be denied that the decision to send Mirage jets across
the Line of Control (LoC) to fire missiles 70 km inside Pakistan represents a
major shift.

It may be recalled here that
during the Kargil war in 1999, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had drawn a
red line over the IAF crossing the LoC, to avoid international recrimination.
This strike was carried out in Pakistani territory, not in Pakistan-occupied
Kashmir. Also it is still to be determined how far the JeM has been set back,
but the strikes mark a new chapter with New Delhi’s willingness to push the war
against terror into Pakistan territory.

Unlike the surgical strike
that followed the September 2016 Jaish attack in Uri, this aerial strike made
it the first operation of its kind since 1971. Indian government had promised a
response to the February 14 Jaish-e- Mohammad attack against a CRPF convoy in
Kashmir that killed 40 jawans. By calling it a “non-military pre-emptive”
strike against the Jaish which was planning more attacks across India, the
government has underlined the message that this was a defensive act. That it
was a strike on terrorism, not Pakistan. The country’s top diplomat who made
the formal announcement of the Indian action, and that he described it as an
“intelligence-based” operation.

Pakistan may be unwilling, it
may allow or even help the JeM to get back on its feet after this attack. It is
now the time to build on this and reach out across the world to convey the
unequivocal message that India continues to seek a resolution to its issues
with Pakistan through diplomatic means. After all, the bilateral relations between
India and Pakistan cannot be resolved through violence or terrorism.
Negotiations have to be resorted to at appropriate time.

It should be kept in mind that
the credit for the execution of the successful cross- LoC operation goes mostly
to the IAF and military brass. On all occasions of need for safeguarding
India’s interests, the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force have done a commendable
job. The defence forces have proved their might and worth during 1971, during
Khargil war in 1999.

Let the Indian people draw
their own conclusions. No attempt should be made to politically own the
airstrikes or use them to attack other political parties as will be
counterproductive. The need of the hour is national unity and nothing should be
allowed to sow division, even if Lok Sabha elections are coming up.(IPA Service)

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