Pakistani media and social media users on Friday questioned India’s assertion of “surgical strikes” on terrorist infrastructure across the Line of Control, with one daily saying the Narendra Modi government had conducted a “drama” to appease public opinion.
The Express Tribune led with the headline “Surgical farce blows up in India’s face”. In a front page report, the daily said the Indian government staged a “drama” on Thursday to placate a media-induced public frenzy following the attack on an army camp in northern Kashmir’s Uri that killed 18 soldiers.
“The Indian military claimed that it had carried out ‘surgical strikes’ against perceived ‘terrorist launch pads’ on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control in disputed Kashmir region. But the Pakistani military ripped to shreds the Indian farcical claim as an ‘illusion’ being deliberately generated by the Indians to create false effects,” the paper said.
The daily Dawn gave a definition of what a surgical strike is, and commented that what India did was not a surgical strike.
Most opinion makers on social media too questioned India’s contention.
The Tribune quoted chief military spokesman Lt Gen Asim Bajaj as saying: “We deny it. There is no such thing on the ground. There is just the incident of the firing last night, which we responded to.”
Bajwa insisted there had been no surgical strike by India, instead there had been cross-border fire initiated and conducted by India.
Columnists in most Urdu papers took their cue from the army. Columnist Hasan Nisar in Daily Express made the point that while India claimed to have conducted surgical strikes, it had killed Pakistani soldiers in the attack, and not militants. Nisar took the line that the Indian army’s claims were “false”.
The front page report in the Dawn, headlined “Escalation or brinkmanship at LoC?”, said the crisis in Pakistan and India over the events in Kashmir had dangerously escalated on Thursday after Indian forces fired across the LoC, killing at least two Pakistani soldiers, while calling it surgical strikes against “terrorism launch pads”.
The Urdu daily, Jang, looked ahead with its report headlined: “Control line aur maqbooza Kashmir pay kabina ka ijlas aaj ho ga (Cabinet to meet today to review the situation on the control line and in occupied Kashmir).”
Most opinion leaders on Twitter took the line that the attack was a face-saver for the Modi government. Sherry Rehman, a senior leader of the Pakistan People’s Party and Twitter favourite, commented: “Surgical strikes are air strikes as I understand it. No such strike struck. LOC violations are what we see on the ground.”