'Surgical Strikes Sent Strong Message To Pakistan, But Diplomacy Must Continue'

Political reactions to the Indian Army's 'surgical strikes' include concerns about continuing diplomatic and political solutions to ensure lasting peace.

People wave national flags to celebrate after the India Army conducted targeted strikes across LoC. Credit: Reuters

People wave national flags to celebrate after the India Army conducted targeted strikes across LoC. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: As advocates of greater military action against Pakistan rejoiced after the news of ‘surgical strikes’ on terrorist ‘launchpads’ in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir broke this morning,  political parties in opposition have responded with both appreciation and restraint.

Barring the Congress party, which has been heavily critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s failure to launch a full-scale attack on Pakistan following the September 18 attack on an army camp in Uri, most other parties emphasised the need for greater diplomatic efforts to stem cross-border terrorism.

“The Congress party stands with the government in its actions today to protect our country’s security and deal with the menace of terrorism from across the border. This [surgical strike] is a strong message that conveys our country’s resolve to prevent further infiltration and attacks on our security forces and our people,” Sonia Gandhi, the party president, said in a press statement.

The party further hoped that Pakistan recognises its “great responsibility in the continuing cross-border terrorist attacks against India,” and expected that it would take “effective action to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism that it has supported.” Gandhi, while congratulating the armed forces for the successful operation, also said that Pakistan should ensure that “its territory and the territory under its control is not used for terrorist purposes against India.”

However, the Left parties were cautious in their responses. In a statement issued by its politburo, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said that according to a government briefing for select political party leaders, the military operation took place at two points across Kupwara and Poonch in Kashmir.

“The CPI(M) expects that there is no further escalation of hostilities henceforth. The CPI(M) expresses the hope that now incidents like [what happened] at Pathankot and at Uri will not recur,” the statement said, while urging the Modi government to continue with diplomatic and political moves to allay tensions.

Similarly, speaking to The Wire, Kavita Krishnan of CPI (ML-Liberation) reiterated the significance of bilateral interventions. “Bilateral diplomacy between India and Pakistan cannot be avoided. We think we should not escalate the military tension between the two countries anymore. Instead of avoiding such meetings like SAARC, the government should get back to serious bilateral diplomacy, not escalation and war mongering.”

Manoj Jha of the Rashtriya Janata Dal welcomed the successful operation of the Indian army but said that it cannot be “the substitute to engaged diplomacy.”

“While it may be a positive thing for the security establishment, we must realise that unlike America, we are not a nation addicted to war. It is something against our civilisational ethos,” he said.

“Now Pakistan has denied the Indian attack completely. Are we sure of the US position, that it will be in our favour, especially after its secretary of state (John) Kerry told Sushma Swaraj to not escalate the volatile situation? The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has supported the Pakistani version of the Kashmir dispute. China, we have literally lost,” said Jha, while stressing the need for India to emerge as a strong player diplomatically.

“Somehow I feel that the ‘Bonapartism’ of Ajit Doval (national security advisor to the prime minister ) cannot replace a coherent, rational strategy emerging out of the government,” Jha said.

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