As our government demands we celebrate “Surgical Strikes Day”, we should instead reflect. And feel disturbed – because not for decades has a government so blatantly politicised Indian defence and India’s military. The Bharatiya Janata Party has shown that it is willing to compromise on India’s security just to try to win a few elections.
Let’s recall for a moment exactly what we’re commemorating. Two years ago, the Indian military crossed over the Line of Control in the Kupwara and Poonch districts of Jammu and Kashmir to attack forward camps where it believed militants planning to sneak into India were briefed. The commandos, believably, say perhaps 40 militants and a couple of regular Pakistani soldiers were killed. In other words, the strikes were a tactical success.
But the action was a strategic failure: because it has signally failed to deter Pakistan. Far from changing our neighbour’s behaviour, in the two years since the strikes across the border – ceasefire violations have gone up four-fold. Security personnel are being killed on a regular basis; infiltrations do not just continue but in fact have intensified beginning in 2016. The Indian army carries out the orders of its political masters; tactics are the domain of the commanders on the ground. But it is clear that strategic thinking is absent in New Delhi. So should we not also on this day commemorate the strategic errors of the government? Should we call it “Strategic Failures Divas” instead?
This is just one…