Ten days after the surgical strikes along the Line of Control, the government is confident it has made the point to Pakistan that any covert operation will be at a high cost. Islamabad’s international isolation on cross-border terrorism after the Uri attack has also given New Delhi diplomatic conviction to launch a similar counter-offensive in case of a repeat misadventure by Pakistan.
“India has raised the stakes, we have raised the cost for Pakistan. There is a possibility of this (surgical strikes) becoming an ‘acceptable norm’. For Pakistan, terrorist strikes or covert operations were a low- risk, low-cost option all along. This has changed now. We don’t want escalation, but we have set a precedent,” a top government official said.
According to the official, the government is now focused on the more important task of ‘consequences management’.
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“We are working on the premise that there will be retaliation. Various options are being worked on to make it impossible for the Pakistan army to strike back. We are minimising our response time and raising our tactical capabilities,” the official said, emphasising that ‘consequences management’ required a much more professional approach. In the last two years, the government has also been addressing the deficiency on the acquisition and procurement front, the official said.
Responding to reports in Pakistan media about differences between the civilian government and the army in Pakistan, the official said the Uri attack and subsequent surgical strikes by India gave an opportunity to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to make the country’s military realise the country’s international isolation.
“One country was sufficient to derail the SAARC summit. The international community unanimously condemned cross-border terrorism. We made a self-admission of LoC violation. Nobody said we were wrong. Not even China. Russia, in fact, gave a strong statement against Pakistan,” the official said.
The official said the cost of world alienation due to terrorist strikes has surely sunk in within the Pakistan establishment. “The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi has accepted our invitation to be the Chief Guest for the Republic Day function in India,” the official pointed out, indirectly pointing to India’s well thought-out and all-round diplomatic offensive to put pressure on Pakistan.
Drawing parallels with the terrorist attack in Mumbai, the official noted that the 2008 attack had forced India to be continuously on alert. “The surgical strikes have done more than that to Pakistan. There is a cost of mobilisation. They need to be perpetually on alert now. Their state of preparedness too has to be high,” the official said.
Emphasising that India has “strong credible evidence” of the surgical strikes, the official said there was “no advantage” in releasing it.
The official maintained this was the first time India launched a surgical strike of this nature. “Earlier, we may have launched operations to stave off a terrorist strike or while chasing them back on their way back, but this is the first time we struck with such surgical precision,” the official said.
To Pakistan’s denial of surgical strikes, the official said, “In a strategic sense, nothing suits us more than this.” The official, however, pointed to the flurry of activity in Pakistan after India’s announcement. “The mobilisation there, commanders’ meetings, cabinet meeting, sending ambassadors abroad, etc, all suggest something else,” the official said.