Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has described the Army’s strikes across the LoC as a “defining moment in the history of India”, the first ever instance of such a “coordinated strikes” on terror launchpads in PoK.
“This is a defining moment in the history of India,” Prasad said in an interview to The Indian Express, during he spoke about the need for the strike, its the implications, and the coordination of military, diplomatic and political efforts. “India has emerged as a mature power, as an emerging global power, whose diplomacy, strategic initiatives and capacity to deliver surgical strikes have all worked in enormous coordination,” he said.
He also “complimented” Prime Minister Narendra Modi “for the political will he has shown”, and praised the armed forces for “executing this surgical strike with enormous precision, without any damage”. “A great moral-booster victory has happened. The nation’s mood is surcharged and we are happy about it.”
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But haven’t there been such strikes earlier with the Army going public only this time? “Maybe one or two instances have happened,” Prasad said, “but this organised strike happened for the first time. The experts themselves are acknowledging it, who are we to debate this?”
To a question about details of the damage inflicted on terrorist camps, which are yet to emerge, he said, “There is no need to distrust the Army establishment, who have publicly said we have caused heavy damage. Let us trust them… When they say extraordinary damage has been done, I trust them.” Asked whether his government is satisfied in terms of damage, he said, “Our country is thrilled. We are thrilled.”
Stressing the Uri attack was the tipping point in relations, he listed Modi’s friendly initiatives towards Pakistan in the last two years. Modi had invited Nawaz Sharif to his swearing-in, Prasad said. “Disregarding conventional wisdom, protocol etc he chose to attend his [Sharif’s] granddaughter marriage. Every sign of accommodation was shown in the last two years that we should grow as good neighbour friends,” he said. “And then Pathankot happened, and then Uri happened. There comes a tipping point where the umbilical chord of patience gets broken. And Uri was that sign.”
He said India’s efforts to isolate Pakistan was part of the “defining moment”. “Most of the conventional allies of Pakistan, from Saudi Arabia to Iran and Qatar to UAE are realising that Pakistan is not playing a fair game,” he said, terming it a “great success of Indian diplomacy and Modi’s initiative”.
He noted India scored another victory when Islamic countries Afghanistan and Bangladesh too chose not to attend the SAARC summit in Pakistan, apart from Sri Lanka and Bhutan. “India has been able to pursue and satisfy the world that any terrorist attack the world over has a distinct Pakistani angle. Whether it’s Paris, London, New York or India,” he said.
He said the decision to carry out the strikes was “taken in sync with the popular mood, and in accord with the national interest”. “There was a popular mood, and there was an imperative of India’s strategic interest. Therefore, strategic restraint gave way to surgical precision.”
About the planning, he said, “These things are not done overnight. There has to be careful planning. There has to be a comprehensive study of all the implications.”
So, had India considered the possibility of a nuclear reply by Pakistan? “All these implications must have been considered,” he said. “Nuclear power is used more as a deterrence. You don’t display nuclear flamboyance like a street fight.”
He pointed out that the PM had even addressed the people of Pakistan and India and assured them the sacrifice of so many Indian soldiers will not go in vain.
He clarified the strike was “against terrorists and their launchpads,” and not against Pakistan per se”. “We will be the happiest to see Pakistan move towards democracy. They are nice people, creative people. But the forces have a vested interest in Pakistan”.
Will the strike help the BJP in the UP elections, he said: “We don’t look into political mileage. This was a duty we owed to the people of India. This is a commitment we owed to India’s strategic security.”