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India may have no trouble explaining surgical strikes to US

India's Pakistan offensive Updated: Sep 29, 2016 21:52 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
surgical strikes

Indian Border Security Force soldiers patrol along a border fence at an outpost along the Line of Control. (AFP File)

India should have no trouble getting Washington on board with regards to its surgical strikes across the Line of Control, as the US has been carrying out similar operations deep inside Pakistan for years now.

“India can note that the United States has been carrying out attacks in Pakistan for over a decade to kill terrorists, including Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mansur (the Taliban chief),” Bruce Riedel, a former CIA operative who was once the adviser to President Barack Obama on Pakistan and Afghanistan, told Hindustan Times.

In 2011, US Navy SEALs found and killed bin Laden in a hideout in Abbottabad, a military town not very far from Islamabad. Pakistan was angry, but helpless to do anything.

And in 2016, Mullah Mansur was killed in a drone strike in Balochistan, the restive southwestern province of Pakistan.

Scores of other terrorists, including Ilyas Kashmiri in 2013, were killed in a similar fashion.

Islamabad has tacitly cooperated in these strikes.

While the US government had not commented on the Indian strikes till the filing of this report, which in itself was indication that it did not think it to be a violation of international laws or norms, experts unanimously agreed that India had shown considerable restraint in the past and that Pakistan may have had it coming.

“For years, Pakistan has refused to crack down on anti-India militant groups on its soil, despite repeated requests from India,” said Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert with Wilson Center, a think tank, adding, “And meanwhile, through this all, India has practised nothing but restraint.”

“I doubt you’ll hear much condemnation of these attacks around from the world, and certainly not from the United States, except for the usual suspects in China and perhaps a few other places.”

Alyssa Ayres, a former state department official and South Asia expert with Council on Foreign Relations, seemed somewhat impressed. “What precisely took place across the LoC seems unclear, but what is new is India’s willingness to declare that something, however limited, took place.”

Both Ayres and Kugelman pointed out, however, there will be concerns about an escalation of tensions and conflict between two nuclear-powered neighbours, specially on account of Pakistan.

“I do think the world will continue to be concerned about prospects for escalation due to the wildly irresponsible threats of nuclear weapons use the Pakistani defence minister made yesterday,” said Ayres.

Meanwhile, US ambassador to India, Richard Verma, who was in DC, cut short his visit and returned to New Delhi cancelling a think tank event he was supposed to headline on Thursday.