Perfect preemptive strike

We as a nation have been for long at the receiving end of jihadi terror attacks planned and launched from the Pakistani soil.

Perfect preemptive strike

harinder@tribunemail.com

We as a nation have been for long at the receiving end of jihadi terror attacks planned and launched from the Pakistani soil. The Pakistani deep state’s involvement in these attacks has been well documented, be it the Kargil incursion or the Mumbai attack. The expose of the role of Col R Sadatullah of the Special Communications Organisation of the Pakistan army in aiding the 2008 Mumbai attackers did not make our neighbour desist from pursuing its doctrine of a thousand cuts to bleed India. A bleeding nation at some point has to sew up its wounds and stop the sabre that stabs. If Pakistan does not respond to actionable intelligence, India would obviously be forced to act on it. The immediate provocation was obviously the massacre of 40 CRPF soldiers at Pulwama on February 14. The pre-dawn retaliatory strike by the Indian Air Force Mirage-2000 aircraft on Tuesday on the Jaish-e-Mohammed camp at Balakot in Pakistan has been termed by the government spokesperson, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, as an intelligence-led ‘non-military preemptive action’. 

Gokhale has made out an effective argument that the Indian attempt was not to launch an attack against Pakistan’s military assets or harm its civilian population. The air strike was meant only to deter imminent jihadi attacks, precisely targeting a terror factory. Initially, Pakistan claimed that the Indian aircraft did no damage and escaped when confronted. Later, Pakistan’s National Security Committee rejected the Indian claim as reckless and fictitious, yet termed the strike an uncalled-for aggression to which Pakistan shall respond at ‘the time and place of its choosing’. 

This is a day of reckoning. Terror attacks and counter-strikes should be seen in the context of their own and should not spill over into open hostilities. Nuclear-armed nations can neither afford nor attempt military adventurism. JeM had openly claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack, leaving no doubt about the perpetrators. After the Uri surgical strike in 2016, it was fairly clear that India has a new doctrine of effective visible response to terror attacks. So, if Pakistan attempts to retaliate militarily to the air strike, what unravels will be a larger plot for a deadly strife in South Asia triggered by the Pulwama attack.

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