If Pakistan does not return the severed head of the martyred soldier Hemraj, India should get at least 10 heads from the other side, thundered BJP leader Sushma Swaraj back in 2013, during the office of the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a summer short of becoming the country’s External Affairs Minister herself.
Two excruciatingly hot summers and equally chilling winters into the NDA government we come to September, 2016. People are still waiting for the arrival of the much-promised ‘achche din’ when the man at the helm of government decided to strike deep into Pakistani territory to avenge brutal killings of Indian soldiers in Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir. The overnight ‘surgical strike’ destroyed launch pads used by terrorists against India in their bid to infiltrate and cause heavy casualties this side of the LoC. The government’s decisive act resulted in achieving its desired objective of sending the message across 125 crore people of this country that this government was no pushover and would not take things lying down when it came to delivering on national security.
It brutally reminded the critics that Modi’s monogrammed suit that went under the hammer and found its place in the Guinness Hall of Fame was after all tailor-made to fit in a diaphragm of 56 inches and no less. The government’s late night offensive on September 29 brought in a respite from terrorist activities in the valley. Naysayers were adamant it shall be but a temporary reprieve.
Basking in the laurels of Indian army’s midnight surgical strike the Modi government came up with the big announcement – demonetisation. It was meant to be a surgical strike against black money but it was packaged differently in the light of the flavor of the season – nationalism.
Lo and behold it was touted as a brahmastra, of sorts, against terror finance. The government dipped deep into the groundswell of its propaganda machinery and tried to give the impression it was taking terrorism by the horns – by striking not only at its source but by trying to root it out by cutting off its supply lines in terms of its funding. The critics again laughed it off as was their wont.
The government’s intentions to give the enemy a piece of its mind to safeguard the country’s security concerns were never suspect it’s the way it went about handling the whole issue that sought to belittle the gravity of its own act. It’s claim of finishing off terror by demonetization were to lie in tatters sooner than later. Baramulla, Nagrota, Handwara and now Poonch. This is a rough list of terror attacks post demonetisation when memories of Uri, Kupwara, Noushera, machchil, Pathankot and Gurdaspur attacks refuse to fade away. And even as you are reading this the Pakistan-sponsored terrorists might be planning another deadly attack from across the border.
Already there is a clamour across political parties for the Indian Army to retaliate which hopefully it shall, in good measure, sooner than later. But the idea of putting an end to terror through demonetization has exploded in the government’s face itself.
Sushma Swaraj’s statement of January 2013 echoes repeatedly in the recess of mind as the Poonch barbaric incident presents itself in all its chilling manifestations. Certainly opposition makes noises to bring the nation’s attention to the problem as much as to put the government on the mat. The same opposition party puts up a more serious countenance when in power. Its tone and tenor changes dramatically. That this happened to Sushma Swaraj and her boss after coming to power is no big deal – give and take a few ‘inches’ of their yarn spun around national security and extraneous threats.
It is amply clear that the war against state-sponsored terrorism cannot be fought by grandiose statements laced in ultra-nationalism and that demonetization was certainly not the weapon Modi chose to use as Brahmastra against terrorists sponsored by a state many countries in the world would vote to put in a rogue nation’s category.
And since surgical strike can at best be a one-off act, as an instrument of calculated caution, lest it slipped into danger zone of a full-scale war with a state only too trigger-happy to prompt an unsavoury fallout, a more pragmatic approach will have to be not to fall for such invitations and hold your horses. That certainly does not mean not giving back to the enemy in the same coin, if the rules so allow, and once in a while giving the rules a go by considering the insolence and of the enemy at hand.
Cutting off supply lines to terror funding may be just one among many weapons that can come in handy against a recalcitrant state bent upon committing harakari; a state which, in the process of terrorizing its neighbour, has inflicted a thousand cuts upon itself.
Demonetisation of Indian rupees may have worked as a solution only if the government had embarked on a multi-pronged, pragmatic approach to tackle the menace of international terrorism that after exploding in the Asian courtyard now plays out with increasing regularity in European backyards and threatens to jeopardize world peace.
Since the problem is many-faceted it needed to be tackled in its entirety and squarely. Linking demonetization to tackling terrorism of a scale and depth at hand was no more than a self-congratulatory pat on back by a government which appeared working to mend the economy and ended up suggesting a lame response to terrorism in its backyard.
It is unfortunate the government chose to find a solution to state-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir not via Kashmir but via demonetization.
When the government is on war with its own people it is hard to pin it down to a matrix where it can think wisely in terms of tackling an inimical neighbour and its sponsored jehadis. So it chose to blind its own people with pellet guns and did not realize it was shutting itselt out to solutions that required the interplay of heart and mind than mind and force.
The fact remains the government’s attempt at isolating Pakistan internationally hasn’t quiet been a diplomatic win for India. The bilateral talks have failed to take off. Diplomatic back channels are working to Pakistan’s advantage.
Getting Kulbhushan Jadhav’s release would have pointed to a thaw in the relationship but Pakistan is only growing more insolent and seems in no mood to oblige India. It has also pooh-poohed the idea of handing over 26\11 Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and rejected India’s demand of reinvestigating the case.
So we are back to where we were; right at the bottom of the ladder of Indo-Pak relationship. A resilent citizenry along with the brave soldiers and officers of the Indian Army continue to bear the brunt of a dysfunctional policies of a government which touts itself as being helmed by the ‘best leader’ India has had since Independence.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of News Nation Digital