The Congress Monday asked the government to put forth “credible” evidence of last week’s surgical strikes, carried out by the army across the Line of Control, to “expose” Pakistan which has denied any such action. Congress’ senior spokesman Anand Sharma also sought to dismiss the claim that the surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads was the first such retaliation by the Indian Army, insisting that it had responded earlier too “as per the need or provocation”.
Asked about Aam Aadmi Party’s demand that the Centre put out a video of the surgical strikes, Sharma said Congress does “not have slightest doubt” about what the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) said after the operation. At the same time, he said, Pakistan is attempting to mislead its people by claiming that no such attack had taken place. In this backdrop, it would be necessary for the Prime Minister to “expose” Pakistan by putting forth credible evidence about the surgical strikes on the intervening night of September 28 and 29.
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The announcement about the action was made by DGMO Lt Gen Ranbir Singh at a press conference in New Delhi. “The government must expose Pakistan’s denial. It has all the tools and instruments to do so,” he said, adding the Modi dispensation has backing of the entire political leadership. He said that the Indian Army had carried out such strikes in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013. The only difference this time was that the government of the day has taken the “political ownership”, he said.
Sharma, a senior minister in the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government, said, “In the wisdom of the UPA, the political ownership of such actions of the army was not considered necessary.” Insisting that the Armed Forces have always responded as per “the need or provocation” when it came to defending the motherland, he said, “The thinking that this is the first time Indian Army has retaliated against a terror attack is not correct. It is a disservice to our forces.”
Noting that neither the Prime Minister nor anyone else has said that “our armed forces were dormant and sleeping in the past”, he said the details of the earlier actions are there with the defence establishment. “In the past, these decisions were taken by the Army,” he said. Sharma said Pakistan has been “exposed but not isolated” in the wake of the surgical strikes and referred to the joint operation carried out by Russian Special Force near Gilgit within 48 hours of the Uri terror attack.
The Congress leader said that if the terror syndicate is not dismantled in Pakistan, peace in South Asia will be very difficult to achieve. He stressed that the attacks on the army base in Uri and the Pathankot airbase showed that these are not terror attacks but acts of war against the Indian state.
Sharma said that instead of learning from the seriousness of the situation, the Pakistani establishment still has the audacity to attack India. “It is clear that despite the bravery of the Indian soldiers and our attack on terror launch pads along LoC, the forces that would attack and want to hurt India are still present in our neighbouring country,” he said.
Sharma also disapproved of attempts to ban Pakistani artistes and cricketers in India. He said it was “not correct” to brand every citizen of Pakistan, including artists and sportsman, as “terrorist”. He expressed concern over China’s continued opposition in the UN to declare Masood Azhar a “terrorist”. He said it is imperative that India takes up the Masood Azhar issue with China.
He said the Congress was concerned over reports of diversion of a tributary of the Brahmaputra by China. He said Northeast India needed a firm reassurance that China will continue to honour the Memorandum of Understanding which was reached between China and India in 2013. Reacting to the controversial statements made by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Sharma said he should “show maturity and restraint and should not get carried away by euphoria”.