NEW DELHI (TIP): Mounting a swift counter-terror operation across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian Army announced, September 29 that it had neutralized terrorists waiting to infiltrate. The brave military man oeuvre has been hailed across the country.
The operation was aimed at preventing attacks being planned by Pakistan-based militants, a senior army official said.He said “significant casualties have been caused to the terrorists and those who are trying to support them”.
At a joint press briefing by the army and the foreign ministry, officials said the “motive of the operation was to hit out at terrorists who were planning to infiltrate into our territory”.
India’s Director General of Military Operations, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, also blamed Pakistan for “being unable to control terror activities in territories under its control”.
“Based on receiving specific and credible inputs that some terrorist teams had positioned themselves at launch pads along the Line of Control to carry out infiltration and conduct terrorist strikes inside Jammu and Kashmir and in various metros in other states, the Indian army conducted surgical strikes at several of these launch pads to pre-empt infiltration by terrorists,” a statement said.
It said the “surgical strikes” had caused “significant damage to terrorists”.
The Press Trust of India quoted sources saying the operation took place between midnight and 04:30 local time on Thursday, September 29, that it was a combination of helicopter and ground forces, and seven militant “launch pads” had been targeted.
Some unconfirmed Indian media reports said more than 30 militants had been killed in the operation.
The entire operation was monitored for the entire night by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag, and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval from the Army headquarters in New Delhi.
Narendra Modi’s BJP government swept to power promising a tough line on Pakistan, so it has been under tremendous pressure to retaliate after the 18 September attack on the army base in Uri in Indian-administered Kashmir. The raid was the deadliest of its kind for years.
“I assure the nation that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished,” Mr. Modi declared just hours after the base was attacked.
There was also much talk of whether India should continue with its doctrine of “strategic restraint” against Pakistan.
The response in India has been predictably supportive of the army. The Indian Panorama received reports of ecstatic celebrations of the Indian military strike in various parts of India. All political parties, regardless of differences with the ruling BJP have expressed total approval of the military action. That is the strength of democracy in India.
Pakistan prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, criticized the “unprovoked and naked aggression of Indian forces” and said his military was capable of thwarting “any evil design to undermine the sovereignty of Pakistan”.
Islamabad says India’s stance is a “blatant attempt” to deflect attention from human rights abuses in the region.
Meanwhile, nations across the world are watching the situation. Britain on Thursday asked India and Pakistan to exercise restraint in the wake of surgical strikes by Indian troops across the Line of Control, while China said it was in touch with both countries to reduce tensions.
A spokeswoman for Britain’s Foreign Office said: “We are monitoring the situation closely following reports of strikes carried out by the Indian Army over the LoC in Kashmir. We call on both sides to exercise restraint and to open dialogue.”
In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing that China was in “communication with both sides through different channels” and hoped Indian and Pakistan “can enhance communication, properly deal with differences and work jointly to maintain peace and security”.
Shuang was responding to questions on whether tensions between India and Pakistan after the terror attack in Uri had figured in the first anti-terror dialogue between New Delhi and Beijing earlier this week.
A foreign ministry statement issued on Wednesday had said China values Pakistan’s position on Kashmir but hopes Islamabad and New Delhi will resolve the issue through dialogue and “maintain regional peace and stability by joint efforts”.
India has “all legal and internationally accepted rights” to respond to any attack on her sovereignty and territory, Iqbal Chowdhury, advisor to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said after the surgical strikes.
Chowdhury said there had been a “violation from the other side andBangladesh always believes that any aggression or attack on the sovereignty…and legal right of a country is not acceptable”. He appealed for “restraint” from all sides to ensure peace in the region.
There was no immediate reaction from the US to the surgical strikes. Hours before India announced it had carried out the strikes, US National Security Advisor Susan Rice called on Pakistan to “combat and delegitimize” terror groups operating from its soil, including Jaish-e-Muhammad, which Indian blamed for the attack in Uri that killed 18 soldiers.
Rice condemned the “cross-border attack” on an Indian Army camp in Uri and highlighted the “danger that cross-border terrorism poses to the region” during a phone call to her Indian counterpart Ajit Doval. She said the US expects Pakistan to take “effective action to combat and delegitimize United Nations-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, and their affiliates”.
This was seen as a major snub for Pakistan after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s attack on India in his speech at the UN General Assembly.
“It were as if Rice was rebutting Sharif here,” said an Indian diplomat obviously pleased with the US response, which some in India had perceived as insipid so far, given the context of terrorism being a shared challenge.
Rice’s comments were also seen as significant against the backdrop of the foreign policy crisis in South Asia over India’s boycott of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Summit in Islamabad.
Rice’s remarks, reaffirming President Barack Obama’s “commitment to redouble our efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorism throughout the world”, were seen as an endorsement of India’s position. The US had not named Pakistan in its first reaction to the Uri attack.
The statement also tapped into a growing sense of dissatisfaction and frustration with Pakistan, a non-NATO ally and a major beneficiary of US financial aid and arms supplies.