Row over surgical strikes deepens

NEW DELHI (TIP): The army has handed over video evidence of its September 29 surgical strikes on terrorist launchpads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir but the government doesn’t see the need to make them public, two senior ministers said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked his ministers not to indulge in chest-thumping over the raid, sources said, adding the army, too, is not in favor of making public the details of the sensitive operation.

Urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu rejected the opposition’s demand for proof of the strikes, saying any further discussions would be an “insult” to the army. “There is no need to respond to such irresponsible comments and demands. Fortunately, the Congress has also realized its mistake and distanced itself from the comments of its leaders,” Naidu told mediapersons a day after he said that the proof would be presented at an appropriate time.

Defense minister Manohar Parrikar has also concurred with the army. Parrikar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval were shown unedited footage of the September 29 operation on October 1, followed by a presentation of an edited version the next day by the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO).

After seeing the visuals, Parrikar conveyed to the Prime Minister that he was satisfied and felt there was no need to release the footage.

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“The opposition should understand the difference between a covert and overt strike. And it is not incumbent on the Indian army to release video footage every time they do their duty,” a senior official said on conditions of anonymity.

South Block sources said there was no need to rub Pakistan’s nose in the dirt after the successful surgical strike.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and a section of Congress leaders have been calling for evidence, couching it as a must to debunk “Pakistan propaganda” that the raid was nothing but cross-border fighting.

Several ministers had taken on the opposition for “questioning” army’s courage in demanding evidence for the raid. “I don’t think any Indian citizen has got any doubt… It would be an insult to the army if we further discuss,” Naidu said. “Only Pakistan is saying something because they have to say something. They are not in a position to conduct funeral or last rites of their own citizens…This is their culture.”

Sources in the army said the force was not in favor of releasing the evidence though the final decision lay with the government. The army would like to keep under wraps the tactics of its special forces.

The army, they said, was proud of its apolitical and secular credentials and didn’t want to be dragged into political wrangling.

Nawaz Sharif warns Pak army not to shield militants

nawaz-sharif-warns-pak-army-not-to-shield-militantsISLAMABAD (TIP): Facing international isolation, Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif has warned the powerful military not to shield banned militant groups and has directed authorities to conclude the Pathankot terror attack probe and the 2008 Mumbai attack trial, a leading Pakistani daily reported on October 6.

Sharif’s orders came after a series of meetings between military and civilian leaders, Dawn newspaper said. The government delivered a “blunt, orchestrated and unprecedented warning” to the military leadership and sought consensus on several key actions, including action against banned militant groups, the paper quoted unnamed individuals, who were involved in the meetings.

However, the spokesman of Pakistan Prime Minister’s Office strongly rejected the Dawn report. “The spokesman has termed the contents of the story not only speculative but misleading and factually incorrect. It is an amalgamation of fiction and half truths which too are invariably reported out of context,” an official statement said.

“The fact that the report itself states that none of the attributed statements were confirmed by the individuals mentioned in the story, clearly makes it an example of irresponsible reporting,” it said. The PMO spokesman said, “It is imperative that those demanding the right to information at par with the international best practices, also act in a manner which is at par with international reporting norms and standards.”

The Pakistan Foreign Office termed the report as “speculative”. Asked about the report, Pakistan foreign office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said, “The story you are referring to is purely speculative and as the author himself acknowledged that ‘none of the attributed statements were confirmed by the individuals mentioned’.”

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