The statement that backfired
Abdul Zahoor Khan Marwat


Former Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar recently claimed that he felt insulted by a June 4, 2015 ambush on an Indian Army convoy by the northeastern militant group NSCN-K and then they planned a surgical strike in Azad Kashmir. In that operation, an Indian Army convoy in Chandel district of Manipur was attacked and 18 jawans killed. When he was informed about the incident, Parrikar said, “I felt insulted….A small terrorist organisation of 200 people killing 18 Dogra soldiers was an insult to the Indian Army and we sat in the afternoon and sat in the evening and worked out the (plan of) first surgical strike which was conducted on 8th June morning in which about 70-80 terrorists were killed (along the India-Myanmar border). It was a very successful strike.”

Speaking before a gathering of industrialists in Panaji, Parrikar, now the Goa Chief Minister, said, “The surgical strikes against militants in PoK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) was planned 15 months in advance.”

Parrikar also said his plans were substantially spurred by a "hurting" query by a TV anchor to minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore whether the Indian government had the "same courage and capability" to replicate the operation across the India-Pakistan border.

This was a startling statement.

First, there were no strikes as India could not come up with any proof about the strikes. No evidence has ever been shared with the international media or the Indian public in this regard. One is not sure if the Indians termed frequent shelling at the homes of Pakistani civilians and other infrastructure or targeting of a Pakistani bus that killed 10 passengers as surgical strikes. The Indians should again read about the Entebbe raid, which was a surgical strike to free Israeli hostages.

Second, it is an interesting statement by Parrikar that "when I was the defence minister, and I can tell you this, when I took over, the defence ministry was in pure shambles, total.... There was total chaos." This speaks volumes about the working of the Indian establishment.

Third, Parrikar's disclosure of how the surgical strikes were planned provoked a strong reaction from former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Twitter. "A news anchor's question could have provoked a wider conflict with Pakistan & we are supposed to feel safer with this sort of decision making?" Abdullah tweeted.

Other Twitter users slammed Parrikar for seemingly letting his ego influence him on critical issues. One of them posted, "Shows how our ministers value ego more than real purpose." Another tweeted, "#SurgicalStrike was nothing to do with our Martyrs. It was done as journalist insulted Minister so @manoharparrikar planned to satisfy his EGO."

Is this how the Indian government and establishment mostly operates?