At a high-level briefing in North Block after the surgical strikes, two possible scenarios of Pakistani retaliation were discussed.
One, the certain Pakistani reaction in the form of increasing infiltrations, more anticipated attacks on military installations such as Pathankot and Uri, and more assaults on the security forces in the Valley.
Two, Pakistan would work overtime to activate terrorist sleeper cells within the country. Pakistani jihadist organisations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad have their sleeper cells in various parts of India, which they have used to hit soft targets from time to time.
The first scenario is well accounted for it is anticipated. The number of infiltrations in the past one year has gone up dramatically; the number of attacks on military installations too has gone up, and so has the ambush on the security forces in the Valley. Post-surgical strike, these are likely to go up further.
It was the second scenario - the possible use of sleeper cells - over which the government agencies were more concerned than the first at the meeting. At the same time they were confident that the government was alert and competent to deal with any eventuality.
The fact that the possibility of Pakistan-sponsored terrorist organisations trying to activate sleeper cells in the hinterland after the surgical strikes was raised at the meeting itself indicates the government’s alertness. However, it would be fallacious to conclude that mere alertness and readiness of security forces would ward off the designs of terrorist outfits.
The readiness of the police and intelligence agencies are necessary to stave off the scourge, which India has suffered for decades. Any security expert would tell you that it’s the spectre that constantly haunts India.
More important than the readiness, it’s the imaginative conduct of politics that is necessary to ward off the challenges of terrorism. Imaginative and creative politics is the necessary element to ensure the safety of people.
That’s where the role of political parties, media and civil society come into the reckoning. The government agencies tasked with guaranteeing the safety of the people would be concerned about the impact of the war hysteria that has become the dominant narrative today.
|Fuelling war hysteria by the government, political parties and media creates a situation within the country that’s not conducive to peace. (Photo: PTI)|
After the dust begins to settle on the post-surgical strikes euphoria, political parties and mainstream media would do well to ensure that proper conditions are created for the security agencies to meet the internal challenges likely to be triggered by sleeper cells.
Sadly, neither the political parties nor the media appears to be up to the challenge.
It’s okay for opposition parties to speak in one voice at a time such as this. It’s quite a different matter for the parties to create conditions for war and egg the government on to wage a full-scale war.
The whole "jaw-for-a-tooth" brigade is rejoicing in what they feel is the execution of the NDA government’s muscular policy.
Ironically, the political parties that ridiculed and opposed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s exposition of muscular foreign policy are walking miles ahead of the BJP on this score.
The Congress, in particular, has fallen a victim to the hysteria. It’s not only lending full-throated support to the BJP’s agenda but also going steps ahead of the ruling party in jingoism.
The Congress is delusional. It’s trying to beat the BJP at its game to appropriate its ultra-nationalist plank. Ever since the Uri attack, Congress has given up the language of peace in favour of war.
After the Uri attack, Congress’s strategy was based on a misconceived calculation. It thought the Modi government would baulk at going for any action like surgical strikes. As a result, that would further expose the weakness and hollowness of Modi’s orchestrated strongman image. The party strategists mistakenly thought that the Congress would gain by walking away with the BJP’s nationalist plank if Modi failed to walk the talk.
The Congress’s ambition to appropriate Modi’s nationalist plank is as misconceived as it's attempts to appropriate the BJP’s Hindutva agenda. Both have proved risky and ultimately futile for the party.
The Congress’s soft Hindutva card has failed in the past and will fail in the UP elections too.
Now that Modi has walked the talk in people’s perception, Congress is coyly standing with the BJP government on the issue of dealing with Pakistan. But in the process the party has added up to the charged atmosphere of war-mongering.
The post-Uri surgical strikes on the launch pads of terrorists along the Line of Control are not an event of war. At the same time, it’s not just a border skirmish. On that there is unanimity among the political parties.
As such, fuelling war hysteria by the government, political parties and media creates a situation within the country that’s not conducive to peace.
During war the entire people line up behind the nation. In a situation that’s not war, the possibility of dissenting voices can’t be ruled out and must not be ruled out. Utmost efforts, therefore, have to be made to ensure that those who don’t sail with the war hysteria are not branded as anti-national or pro-Pakistani.
Political parties must see that it is business as usual in the country. It’s peacetime, not wartime.
Because, if the government, parties, media and civil society create an atmosphere of war based on a false narrative, its impact will be felt on the internal situation too.
The sleeper cells of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad will be looking for opportunity to play on the people’s frayed nerves. They will be looking for opportunity to act.
That’s a much bigger challenge for the government than the situation arising out of the Army action along the LoC.