India’s response to the Army’s ‘surgical strike’ has been full of desk bhakti and Modi bhakti. The Army has been praised for the efficient operation and Modi for showing that he can walk the talk.
The praise is, in some part, deserved. For the longest time, it had seemed like India was incapable of hitting the terrorist camps and that is why they had continued to operate along the LoC. So to hear of the Army launching a meticulously planned attack after observing the camps for a week is heartening. It shows that India isn’t a soft state and that Modi is capable of changing the ball game completely.
But the question that remains to be answered is this: Has India’s doctrine against terrorism changed?
India’s response, in this case, has been prompted by the Uri attack and the subsequent public anger. But can Modi and India say that unless Pakistan mends its way, this is how we will consistently respond to every attack on our forces or our land in the same way? To say that as long as India believes that the attack emanated from Pakistan, we will not hold back.
Much like the ‘Dahiya doctrine’ that Israel currently employs. The doctrine is named after a southern suburb in Beirut with large apartment buildings that were flattened by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the 2006 Lebanon War.
General Gadi Eizenkot, commander of the IDF’s northern front, in October 2008 said that what happened in the Dahiya (also transliterated as Dahiyeh and Dahieh) quarter of Beirut in 2006 would, “happen in every village from which shots were fired in the direction of Israel.”
“We will wield disproportionate power against [them] and cause immense damage and destruction. From our perspective, these are military bases. […] This isn’t a suggestion. It’s a plan that has already been authorized. […]” he said.
Eizenkot is currently the Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces and the doctrine remains in place. The key fact to be noted here is that the Israelis are okay using “disproportionate power” against anyone who attacks them. And that they are ready to do this over and over again without needing explicit political approval.
Political approval complicates things. The Army could have retaliated to Uri instantly but if we had a doctrine; a template already in place then retribution would have been swifter; we might have been able to hit back even before the terrorists knew what hit them. It will also make clear to Pakistan and the terrorists they support that there will be no holding back.
Our stance in this case has to be clear and without fear of consequences. Some worry that it may be somehow undiplomatic or impolite to speak the language of right and wrong, but then this is the need of the hour.
Just a few days after the 9/11 attacks, on September 14, 2001, US President Bush had spoken about America’s response to the dastardly attack:
“…Our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil. War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. The conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing.”
It pretty much sums up how India’s dilemma as well. If we have decided to play hardball then we need be prepared to bear the consequences as well.
If the US or any other country cannot see the truth of our words, we should not hesitate to act alone. We will see justice because it is the right thing to do regardless of what the rest of the world may think.
And for all of this to happen, we need a doctrine in place; one that all parties agree on; one that our armed forces agree on; one that shows the terrorists and Pakistan that we mean business. And one that we can wield consistently, uninfluenced by the public mood at the time.
(Feature image is representational)
(Feature image source: PTI)