World View: Pakistan and India in Farcical Dispute over ‘Surgical Strikes’ in Kashmir

Praveen Bajpai/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Praveen Bajpai/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Pakistan and India in farcical dispute over ‘surgical strikes’ in Kashmir
  • Farce continues, as Pakistan involves the German embassy

Pakistan and India in farcical dispute over ‘surgical strikes’ in Kashmir

Indian army soldier on guard in Kashmir (Getty)
Indian army soldier on guard in Kashmir (Getty)

War turned into farce this past week, as Pakistan claims that India was lying when India said that it conducted military “surgical strikes” into Pakistani territory in Kashmir.

We recently reported a major change in policy by India’s military — that it would invade Pakistan’s soil if necessary. ( “30-Sep-16 World View — Pakistan expected to retaliate after India invades Pakistani soil in Kashmir”)

The series of events was triggered by a major terrorist attack, blamed on Pakistan, on an Indian army base in Uri in Kashmir on September 18. There was a five-hour firefight, and at least 17 soldiers were killed, as were the militants. This was the worst militant terrorist attack in Kashmir in years. India promised retaliation for the Uri attack.

The retaliation came on September 29 in the form of a series of “targeted strikes” or “surgical strikes” by India’s armed forces on militant targets across the Line of Control (LoC) into the region of Kashmir government by Pakistan.

The attack on Pakistani soil infuriated Pakistan’s public, resulting in calls for retaliation, even at risk of starting a war. Pakistan’s Foreign Office issued a statement:

We can assure India that any such aggression will not go unanswered or unpunished. Pakistan is ready to defend its people and territory from any Indian aggression or Indian state-sponsored terrorism on Pakistani soil. The valiant armed forces of Pakistan have given and will continue to give a befitting response to any aggression,” said the Foreign Office spokesman in a statement.

There is particular sensitivity in Pakistan over the question of whether the Army is protecting Pakistani soil, after the American commando operation that captured Osama bin Laden.

But apparently Pakistani government officials found a solution to the problem.

They have declared that the “surgical strikes” never occurred, that they were just a “bluff,” and that they announced by India’s military in order to confuse and humiliate Pakistan by making it appear that the country could not defend its own soil. Some of Pakistan’s media is even claiming that the Uri military base attack was a “false flag” operation by India’s military to provoke anti-Pakistan nationalism in India.

Some Pakistani officials are calling the Indian military “delusional” for claiming that the strikes took place. BBC (30-Sep) and Daily Times (Pakistan) and The News (Pakistan, 30-Sep)

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Farce continues, as Pakistan involves the German embassy

Pakistan’s claims that India fabricated the story about “surgical strikes” took an even more bizarre and farcical turn when Pakistan media began to claim that a highly placed Indian official had confessed that the surgical strike story was phony.

According to Pakistan media, the German foreign office in Berlin told diplomats at the Pakistan Embassy in Berlin about a meeting that took place between Germany diplomats and the Indian foreign secretary in New Delhi. At the New Delhi meeting, the Indian foreign secretary Subramaniam Jaishankar is quoted as saying:

The Indian Foreign Secretary has categorically denied and said that there was no ‘surgical strike’ undertaken by Indian Army inside Azad Kashmir, Pakistan.

Pakistan media also quotes an unnamed high-level Indian government official saying that it was all a plot by India’s governing BJP party, which is led by the prime minister Narendra Modi:

With the so-called mantra of surgical strike, the BJP government wanted to achieve many objectives such as to prove to the world that Pakistan is a terror sponsoring state and India has the military muscle to put it under restrain, Kashmir’s freedom movement is nothing more than Pakistan’s sponsored terrorism, to satisfy its populations’ demand of avenging Uri attack and to create an unrivaled political space ahead of UP’s state elections.

However, a spokesman for the German embassy in New Delhi said that no such conversation with German diplomats ever took place. “The report in News International Pakistan is baseless and without any truth,” according to the German embassy.

According to the India-based South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG), the surgical strikes have had the “unintended consequence” of stirring debate in Pakistan itself whether Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency should continue protecting and sponsoring terrorists who attack targets in India. The News (Pakistan) and Daily News and Analysis (India) and South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG – India)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Pakistan, India, Kashmir, Subramaniam Jaishankar
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