There can be no two opinions on India’s befitting response to Pakistan across the international border and the Line of Control (LoC). But what’s the strategy behind such demonstration of strength?
Do we have a plan ready to counter possible internationalisation of Kashmir by Pakistan by showing the dispute as a nuclear flash-point in the region? What if the active-reactive shelling by heavy weapons triggers a limited (like Kargil) or a regular 1971 type war?
The NDA regime needs to be discreet rather than valorous in handling the crisis.
There is requirement of bold responses on the border to deter Pakistani troops. But jingoistic statements to cater to domestic audience during poll time could be counterproductive. New Delhi has to show itself as a power wronged — and acting in retaliation -- in the face of Islamabad’s adventurism.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rightly kept his counsel on the issue despite taunts by opponents in Maharashtra and Haryana where he’s campaigning for the BJP. Given the nature of their portfolios, home minister Rajnath Singh and defence minister Arun Jaitley have legitimately delivered the kind of warnings they did to Pakistan.
But Singh’s statement asking Pakistan to take note of the “changed ground situation” in India with the installation of a fully mandated government had about it a ring reminiscent of LK Advani’s ill-worded remarks that didn’t go down well internationally after the 1998 Pokhran II nuclear tests. Then holding the home portfolio in the Vajpayee regime, he, in a written statement, asked Islamabad to recognise the changed geo-political realities (on account of the tests) and come to terms with India on Kashmir.
To be fair, however, Rajnath’s comments despite scope for improvement were more cautionary than threatening in nature. As home minister, he has to keep high the BSF’s morale and that of the citizenry, especially people in the firing line in border areas. The same is true of Jaitley.
But for India to keep its image of a responsible nuclear power, the top BJP leadership should rein in lesser party functionaries given to muscle flexing on TV channels. The Congress too must stop pouring vitriol on the PM for his silence.
What is needed is a sober yet firm response by a united India. That alone will defeat the Pakistani strategy of targeting civilians to unleash public outrage on our side to make New Delhi abandon restraint.