Uri disaster and after

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The overflow of national passion since the September 18 attack at Uri military camp ostensibly by Pakistan trained Kashmiri militants was only to be expected. These attacks have been far too many over the years, and India had been unable to do much beyond sabre rattling verbal reprimands every time such a audacious assault happened. This time around, things seem a little different, with India claiming it made simultaneous surgical strikes at several launch pads for Kashmiri militants sponsored by Pakistan army across the Line of Control, LoC in the wake of the Uri attack. These claims have subsequently been denied by Pakistan, and Pakistani media said they have confirmed these denials when they were taken on a tour to the camps India claimed they destroyed during the surgical operations. We do hope the Indian government would provide video proofs of these operations, as according to reports, the commandoes tasked to do these clinical search-and-destroy missions were wearing helmets fitted with video cameras. If not for anything else, this will put to a conclusive end the veracity of the operations. As of now, in the tussle between the claims and denials of the operations, the episode is getting lost under progressive piles of propaganda of yes and nay choruses. As always, the media, in India, and we are told in Pakistan as well, have not helped in clearing the cloud, both so unfortunately blinded by surges unwarranted nationalistic jingoism.

We have no issue to raise on where the truth actually might be in the case. While undoubtedly this question is important, the point we want to flag here is something different and not of any less gravity. This matter also is more in the nature of self-questioning and examining. Amidst all the chest thumping and saber rattling, both on political platforms and in the media, what has been pushed into the background is the question of how an attack was allowed to happen, and this too at a high security military camp. That this military camp was located close to what is considered a hostile border, should make the outrage of a breach of security all the more incredulous. Since this is not the first time such a breach has happened on this frontier, shouldn’t there have also been probing questions on how or why these lapses ever became possible. Indeed, if these outrageous attacks were not allowed to happen in the first place, the current dangerous controversy would not have arisen at all. It is difficult therefore not to also think of the possibility that the current hyping up of the issue are not meant to hide the original sin of allowing such a serious breach of security in these high security military establishments. Away from the exchanges of hate speeches with Pakistan, should not anybody be held accountable for these fatal breaches? Now that the nationalistic passions have cooled down to some extent, this question needs to be addressed in a little more earnest.

Amidst all the comparisons of how the Indian approach has fallen short of how Israel would have responded to similar affronts from a hostile neighbor, let us remind of a news report on how the Israel State responded to a situation that has a telling effect on the Indian response to the Uri attack. This was in the 1900s. An Israeli army officer, armed with a handgun, was stabbed by a Palestinian protester at a beach resort in Israel. The immediate response of the Israel state was to court martial the wounded officer querying on how he managed to get himself stabbed thus even though he was armed. It does not matter what the outcome of this particular case was, but should not it be pertinent to ask how the Uri outrage happened in a high security military camp at a sensitive border area? This question is important from the point of view of ensuring the morale of the troops and also from the vantage of ensuring no failure, especially stupid ones, will be tolerated in the future. More than talking big about an appropriate response to what has been described as an affront on the sovereignty of India, the country should be thinking about fixing responsibility for lapses that compromise the country’s security. Not only is this about punishing those who fail in their duties but also of instilling faith and morale of the rest of not just the fighting forces but the entire nation.

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