India’s surgical strike on “terror launchpads” in Pakistan across the LoC early Thursday prompted the world media to take notice of how New Delhi’s tactical shift in military strategy will affect rapidly deteriorating relations between the two countries.
Most of the coverage reported on the public statements by Delhi and Islamabad, but also focused on the subcontinent’s tense, war-like atmosphere.
A New York Times piece by the newspaper’s India and Pakistan correspondents, Ellen Barry and Salman Masood, note that the strike was “precedent-setting”. “Though India’s military has almost certainly carried out cross-border raids, the government has never publicly announced them, even during the brief conflict in Kargil in 1999.”
The story goes on to quote Myra MacDonald, the author of “Defeat is an Orphan: How Pakistan Lost the Great South Asian War”, who says the move reflected India’s growing confidence in its “diplomatic cover”. MacDonald is quoted as saying, “If it does turn out to be a one-off, yes, they could have set a new norm in terms of how they respond to attacks. Nobody is really going rally to support Pakistan on this.”
An analysis piece for CNN, ‘Kashmir: Why is India’s Modi going on the offensive?’ , by researcher Shashank Joshi echoes NYT’s surmising that India going public with the details of the strike in a dramatic fashion signals a break with the past. Joshi goes on to remind readers that the strike was a relatively modest operation. “It was restricted to disputed territory, allowing India to claim it remained within what it considers to be its own soil. It also deliberately focused on militants, rather than Pakistani troops, which would have been more provocative.”
A Washington Post wrap on the issue says the strike could have been “the most aggressive military action from India toward Pakistan in years” and marks a shift in strategy. “The countries offered sharply conflicting accounts of the day’s events, however, underscoring the heightened suspicions and volatility in an area that has been at the heart of India-Pakistan friction for decades,” says the piece.
BBC’s Soutik Biswas observes that public sentiment in India is “predictably supportive” of the army. “A Narendra Modi fan club account tweeted a clip from a Tom and Jerry cartoon film to show India spanking Pakistan,” says the story. “A clutch of news channels were waxing delirious on how India had taught Pakistan a lesson and speculated endlessly about the details of the operation,” it adds.