Uri attack: India to isolate Pakistan globally; death toll rises to 18
The government at the highest level considered its options on Monday in the wake of the Uri terror attack, with sources indicating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought a concerted global effort to diplomatically isolate Pakistan as an immediate step.UriTerrorAttack Updated: Sep 19, 2016 18:34 IST
India will move to diplomatically isolate Pakistan at all international fora as part of a multi-pronged retaliation strategy following an attack on an army base in Kashmir’s Uri, a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided on Monday.
The death toll in the strike rose to 18 as a soldier admitted at Delhi’s army hospital succumbed to his injuries amid growing calls for a fierce counter-strike against Pakistan and militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad, which India believes orchestrated the attack.
Sources said the prime minister leaned towards presenting clear evidence of Pakistan’s complicity to be presented at all multilateral and bilateral engagements, including the upcoming United Nations general assembly. India aims to push for more Pakistan-based “terror elements” to be brought under the UN sanctions regime.
“I am certain many countries are willing to join hands with India to isolate Pakistan,” former foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh told HT.
But any attempt by India to bring Pakistani elements under the sanctions regime has so far been unsuccessful, because of opposition from China, among others.
Sources said India’s response is expected to be “measured” and taking long-term implications into account.
A group of four heavily armed militants sneaked into the strategic Uri base near the Line of Control at dawn on Sunday and set fire to a building before an hours-long gun battle with security forces killed them.
The attack squeezed the already shrinking space for bilateral diplomatic détente and jeopardized hopes of any peace to Kashmir that has been rocked by violent protests, which have killed 86 people.
The two-hour-long Monday meeting in Delhi was attended by home minister Rajnath Singh, finance minister Arun Jaitley, defence minister Manohar Parrikar, national security adviser Ajit Doval, army chief Dalbir Singh and other senior officials. Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj was absent.
Parikkar is believed to have told the army to act sternly against extremists while minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju said a “befitting reply” would be given.
Government sources pointed out the large-scale condemnation of Pakistan’s role in promoting “terrorism” in India. “The UN forum has to be used. Pakistan has been harbouring terrorist elements, causing a regional instability and hasn’t done enough to counter extremism,” said a source. They cited the example of the United States withholding $300 million in military aid in August as an example of how Pakistan needed to be dealt with.
But India’s diplomatic charge is likely to run into a wall of resistance from Pakistan, which has swept aside India’s allegations and said any accusation of Islamabad’s hand in Sunday’s Uri attack was not based in facts.
“Pakistan categorically rejects the baseless and irresponsible accusations being levelled by senior officials in Prime Minister Modi’s government,” said Sartaj Aziz, the foreign affairs adviser to Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
“It was particularly deplorable that the Indian minister chose to blame Pakistan for the incident even prior to conducting proper investigation. The statement is part of a pattern to mislead world opinion and cover up India’s reign of terror in (Jammu and Kashmir).”
Sharif, who addresses the UN general assembly on September 21, is expected to rake up alleged army atrocities in Kashmir to paint India into a corner.
Pakistani army chief Raheel Sharif also hit out at India’s “hostile narrative”, saying the country’s armed forces were “fully prepared to respond to entire spectrum of direct and indirect threat”.
“The Pakistani military will thwart any sinister design against integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan.”
Modi’s high-level meeting was held shortly after Rajnath Singh reviewed the situation along the border and the Line of Control (LoC) at a meeting with home ministry officials who were directed to coordinate with other border states such as Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Domestically, Modi is under pressure from opposition parties to live up to his 2014 election campaign promise of acting tough on Pakistan. During the Lok Sabha polls, Modi had repeatedly berated the then Congress government and said if elected to power, he would give Islamabad a befitting response to any attack on India.
“Mr Prime Minister are you not weak? If you are strong, the country needs proof of it,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari asked reporters.
(With agency inputs)