Defence minister Manohar Parrikar dismissed on Wednesday a nuclear threat from Pakistan, describing the neighbour’s provocative statements after the Uri strike as a case of “empty vessels make more noise”.
His statement came hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his top ministers and military commanders to weigh an effective response to the deadly weekend terrorist attack at the north Kashmir army base that killed 18 soldiers.
“The stronger man doesn’t make too many arguments,” Parrikar said, responding to a question on Pakistan’s nuclear saber-rattling amid calls for a swift retaliation.
“How to punish, that is for us to work out. We are serious about it.”
It wasn’t immediately known what the Modi-headed cabinet committee on security decided, but he has been under pressure to keep his election promise two years ago to deal firmly with attacks on India from Pakistan. The army has said it will retaliate at a time and place of its choosing.
Something obviously went wrong in Uri, Parrikar said, stressing the government will take steps to prevent such attacks from happening again. He said he believed in the “principle of zero error” and India needed to ensure “wrongs” are not repeated.
What next? Parrikar said he preferred to “execute things” rather than talk.
“India is a responsible power but that doesn’t mean I will sleep over this kind of terrorism that is being pushed from across the border,” he said.
Politicians and army veterans have called for a muscular response, including air strikes on training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Despite growing clamour for punishing Pakistan, India is unlikely to act rashly and its moves will be well-calculated, senior military officers said.
Parrikar said: “If required I can have a knee-jerk reaction. Sometimes knee-jerk reaction is required.”
He was quick to add he was talking in general terms and not specifically about the Uri attack.
There are expectations that the NDA government will respond strongly, given that its top leaders consistently accused the previous UPA regime of being soft on terrorism.
Former army chief General (retd) Bikram Singh believes the political and strategic climate has changed and the government has clearly spelt out a more robust policy on Pakistan.
“The cautious and too idealistic approach of the past has been replaced by more realistic policy,” Singh said. “Pakistan will be paid back in its own coin and spoken to only in the language it understands.”