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Speakers examine effect of move two years on and whether Indo-Pak ties changed for worse or better

On the second anniversary of ‘surgical strike day’, the Modi government released new stills of the 2016 operation. Saturday’s edition of Mudda took up the issue, asking whether or not the step was necessary and where Indo-Pak ties are going two years after the event. The discussion was attended by BJP spokesperson Ashok Thakur, Congress spokesperson Ajay Verma, defence experts former Brigadier Amrit Kapoor and retired Colonel Fasi Ahmed, and senior journalist Govind Pant Raju. It was anchored by Anant Tyagi.

Verma felt the government is going overboard on this issue. “At this rate, it is better to declare Emergency and impose military rule, as there is an undeclared Emergency going on anyway,” he said.

“We don’t need to indulge in this kind of publicity and propaganda. We need to look into soldiers’ problems—lack of weapons, poor living conditions, OROP and delay in procuring arms. Also, we should not bring such images into the public domain,” said Brigadier Kapoor.

Raju held that there should be introspection two years on so that the government can see where the ties are headed. “We were successful in accomplishing a very minor surgery through these strikes. We should engage in sharp diplomacy in the UN, but have we brought about any change in the situation on the border?” he said.

The government did not play politics over the surgical strike, said Thakur. “It was the Congress who asked for proof as a political gambit and we only supplied it now in response to its demand,” he added.

Eight of the 16 terrorist launchpads destroyed in the 2016 strikes are back, said Tyagi.

Colonel Ahmed said: “It was we who reminded the government of its strength as Pavanputra Hanuman did to Lord Ram. This is politicization of our achievement.”

“I agree,” said the retired brigadier. “The Army should not be dragged into politics and allowed to do its job. We should not spoil our good name by making comments which are not called for.”

Is Pakistan still following its policy of thousand cuts with respect to India, Tyagi asked. Both defence experts felt that it was indeed the case and that a strong aggressive policy should be followed by the government. Tyagi wondered why India could not put Pakistan in its place and control the terror problem more successfully given that the latter was an economically weak nation.

But Thakur felt that the BJP government had much to be proud of as unlike the Congress it had freed the forces to make their own decisions. “We have also implemented OROP, a demand that had been in place for 40 years,” he said, though Verma pointed out that the defence budget was the lowest this year.

                                                                     —Compiled by Sucheta Dasgupta

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