By Florine Roche
Mangaluru, Feb 17: Most of us must be familiar with the often repeated quote ‘don’t make promises when you are happy, don’t reply when angry and don’t take important decisions when you are sad’. Following the Pulwama attack – sponsored by our neighboring country Pakistan, Indians are extremely shocked, angry, and sad, infuriated and want to revenge the dastardly and cowardly act of killing our CRPF personnel. After Pathankot and Uri, this is the third big attack on Indian security forces in the last two years and the anger in the nation is justified.
Though Uri attack was avenged by India to a certain extent through surgical strikes, the perpetrators of violence and their supporters have failed to learn a lesson. The recent brazen act of killing 40 odd CRPF Jawans in Pulwama is another example of the intentions of the terrorists who want to pulverize India by attacking our security forces.
If we go by the mood of the nation, people of India want to avenge the killing of our security personnel and responding to the situation Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given full power to Indian armed forces to give a fitting response to those who believe in carrying out violence to achieve their parochial interests. Following the Pulwama attack, the general public wants the Indian government not merely to talk but to act in a decisive manner against any diabolical plans hatched by our enemies to wreck havoc and create distrust among our people.
Public mood -decisive action
Not since the Mumbai attack in 2008 the public mood is so decisive in the country which has called for action from its elected government. As expected the Indian government has vowed retaliatory measures against Pakistan for state sponsored terrorism and is contemplating various options. But such an action will have to be planned and executed with utmost meticulousness and cannot be done in hurriedness. In the meantime the government has been trying other options namely impress upon the diplomatic community of nations to hold Pakistan responsible for supporting terrorism. Prime Minister Modi has rightly pointed out “when countries come together terrorism will not survive for long” and therefore the support of the international community in India’s fight against terrorism is crucial.
As part of its immediate action the Indian government has withdrawn the MFN (most favoured nation) status accorded to Pakistan following the attack. In another major step India has hiked customs duty to 200 per cent with immediate effect on all goods imported from Pakistan. But these measures will not have a desired impact Pakistan or the terrorist groups. But India cannot act in haste and that too in an election year and would prefer to give a cool and calculated response to teach an unforgettable lesson to Pakistan so that it desists from such miscalculated adventurism in future. That would be a befitting honour to the Pulwama brave hearts and other Indian soldiers who lost their lives since insurgency raised its ugly head in Kashmir in the 90’s.
Following the attack on Indian security forces there is anger, shock grief and outrage all over the country as is evident from the condolences poured out and protest marches held in different parts of the country by people irrespective of religion, age, caste or creed. The public are expecting the government to take appropriate action to avenge the cowardly act of killing our soldiers. The government has also said “the sacrifice of our soldiers will not go in vain and said those who carried out the attack will pay “a heavy price” for it. A military response from India cannot be ruled out. The only question is how and when.
The Congress President Rahul Gandhi has promised to stand by the government in this fight. Initially Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjiwala who tried to politicize the Pulwama attack by talking about Modi’s 56” chest, was trolled by the twitterati and sensing public anger Rahul Gandhi tried to do the damage control by assuring the government of its full support. But it remains to be seen how long the Congress will stick to its promise especially in an election year.
Even as Indians are waiting for government and Indian army to respond in a befitting way to the Pulwama attack it is necessary to see what choices the Modi government has, to deal with the situation. It may be recalled that the BJP had made repealing of article 370 as part of its manifesto in 2014 but failed to do anything after coming to power. That it did not have 2/3 majority in the Rajya Sabha is a feeble argument and is not convincing. However, it is true that Modi government pursued a hard-line policy that includes trying to isolate Pakistan diplomatically and the response to Uri attack.
The main opposition Congress party continued its ambivalent stand on Kashmir and P Chidambaram even batted for more autonomy to J & K, thus embarrassing the Congress, which was finally forced to distance itself from Chidambaram’s views.
Coming to the options with the Indian government - the diplomatic action is one of the options and government has already started to mobilize world opinion on this count. But the big brother USA which had taken the drastic step of cutting military aid to Pakistan in 2017 is now relying on Pakistan to play a responsible role and give America an honourable exit from Afghanistan. It means it is bad news for India as China has blocked UN effort to declare Masoor Azad as a global terrorist. China too has been supporting Pakistan for long as it wants to checkmate India’s growing influence in the Asian subcontinent.
Most Indians want Indian government to launch another surgical strike in the line of the one carried out in 2016. It is not as easy as the general public perceive it and India can resort to such adventurism at its own peril. Pakistan will not give India such an advantage and that too in an election year to give Modi the advantage. Pakistan would rather prefer a weak government at the centre than Narendra Modi and would be extra careful not to give such an advantage to the central government. It is also said that the 2016 surgical strike failed to dissuade Pakistan from continuing terrorist activities in India.
There are a few who still believe that peace talks with Pakistan is the only option. But they fail to realize that the jehadi elements who harbor an irrational pseudo religious fervor fail to understand any other language and in such a situation it is difficult for the government to adopt a saner and sensible approach to deal with the present situation. The government should not act in haste as it may prove detrimental to our interests.
Experience show that public anger has a short shelf life and all is forgotten till we get another wake up call. Terrorism is a major hindrance to India’s development and it is the responsibility of the citizens also to help the government in dealing with the situation in an appropriate manner so as to safeguard the unity, integrity and security of the nation and its security forces. Let us not tolerate any efforts to pulverize the morale of our security forces.