India’s ‘surgical strike’ in POK is beginning of a new era for the defence establishments of the country. Perhaps for the first time, the armed forces have been given a free hand, which might lead to a permanent change in the defence doctrine. It’s the political establishment that calls the shots in India unlike Pakistan where the government had to get the army’s nod on its foreign policy. On the other hand, the Pakistan army always takes decisions even on internal matters like government formation. Not the government, but the Pakistan army will now decide whether or not to retaliate. The attack across LOC brought home once again the stark difference between the Indian and Pakistan armed forces.
Besides the Indian public, which is largely united in supporting the government’s landmark decision and the army’s near faultless operation, Wednesday night’s attack is a huge morale booster for the armed forces. Despite having a hostile neighbour, the armed forces time and again had to exercise restraint due to lack of political will. Although fortunately, Indian forces have not been able to test their capability to strike for long after Kargil even as Pakistani forces have too many problems to handle across its borders and even inside.
An effort has been seen to relate the attack in POK with the one across Manipur’s border with Myanmar in June last year eliminating nearly 40 Naga rebels. The attack followed a dastardly ambush on Assam Rifles killing 18 jawans. Apart from the striking similarity between the numbers of casualty of Indian jawans and that of terrorists in the two incidents, the POK attack is way too different. Unlike from Pakistan, there was no chance of retaliation from Myanmar and that Myanmar army had very less control over the territory where the Indian army struck even as the terror launch pads in POK are facilitated by the Pakistan army itself. It seems the decades of honeymoon period of Indian armed forces is over and time has come to be fully geared up to prove their capability to nurture which the country has been spending thousands of crores every year.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on October 1, 2016)