It would have been too much to expect Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come out guns blazing in Kozhikode and do a high noon. Instead, he elected to go passionate theatrics and hoped that emotion would camouflage the hesitation to go for broke. But why he had to shy away from naming Pakistan directly instead of going roundabout with that stuff about there being only one country in Asia that exports terror is inexplicable. There is no need to be diffident. No one can sue him for slander and even if they do, so what? Only one country wants a blood bath so might as well identify it.
Emotional highs were delivered about telling 'them' (not sure who) India will never forget this (the killing of 18 soldiers in Uri) but how we remember is more important.
For the hawks, it would have seemed like a damp squib. It was more rhetoric but if there is an agenda in the long and short term we can hardly expect him to share the details.
While concentrating for a fair time on this theme, the break in his voice was understandable and the promise that India would not bend to terror impressive.
But we were not particularly clear exactly what the sum total of the talk was. There were no real specifics except to repeat the sentiment of Pakistan being the bad boy in the courtyard and although the gung-ho rage on his face would have been encouraging he did not really grasp the nettle.
Could he have said more on the issue of isolating Pakistan rather than suggest that the neighbour has been chastised on the global stage? That could be a presumption.
Also, without being needlessly critical the fact that a week has passed in silence much of the speech was a repetition of the same old same old stuff that we all know.
To that extent, simply raging away on the microphone sounds good when it is happening but in the immediate aftermath the worms of doubt come wriggling up. This speech would have been perfect the next day after the attack. Today should have been more specific and we should not have switched off thinking, okay, this is water under the bridge, like Pathankot we are going to let it pass. Sitting in Islamabad one cannot see the trinity of the Sharif government, the ISI and the army cowering with fear.
Here is a nation that stymied any ‘Cold Start’ tactic by converting its highways into runways and moved its forces closer to the border instantly.
Modi said nothing militarily comforting nor did he indicate to us as a nation exactly how we would avoid a recurrence of Uri.
If Modi said something strong it was telling Sharif that he parroted his speech from the lords of terror but beyond that we got very little in return today.
The prickly nettle should have been to tell the nation that the armed forces have now been given a carte blanche to hit back. What he said was our forces have our faith(????) and we will not accept terror and will strike back. Great, but when… after how many attacks, when will our patience go sour.
The three specifics that would have made a difference besides giving the armed forces free rein would have been:
Naming Pakistan instead of waffling on the issue.
Being less shrill about the love for the forces and marking out more hardcore steps.
Telling the country to sleep in peace, there would never be another Uri and if there is, we will let loose the dogs of war… and more.