The terror attack in Kashmir's Uri sector, touted as the deadliest attack on the Indian Army in the last 26 years, garnered enough eyeballs across the world. In a dastardly act, heavily-armed militants stormed a battalion headquarters of the Indian Army in North Kashmir's Uri and killed 17 jawans. The toll rose to 18 later on Monday when one more soldier succumbed to his injuries.
As the Indian leadership, along with the intelligence and Army chiefs, huddled to decide on their next move, the brazen attack in Uri were condemned across the world — the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany, Japan, Canada and Bhutan were among the nations which denounced the attack. However, the perspective and message in each of their condolences were different.
While China and Germany supported India in their statements, they also said that such "situation" escalates and triggers a "spiral of violence." "We must not give in to this logic, including in conflicts between India and Pakistan," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Russia, on the other hand, supported India's claim and condemned the attacks. Russia also cancelled its planned joint military exercises in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, however, Russian officials said that the decision not to hold the exercises in PoK was taken independently of the Uri attack, keeping in mind India's insistence that the area is illegally occupied.
"Regarding the Pathankot Indian air base attack in January 2016, we are very concerned about the terrorist attacks near the Line of Control. We are also concerned about the fact that, according to New Delhi, the Army base near Uri was attacked from Pakistani territory. We believe that this criminal act will be investigated properly, and that its organisers and perpetrators will be held accountable," Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.
Apart from world leaders condemning the attacks, media played a huge role in how the Uri attacks were perceived — both in India and abroad. Indian media aside, Pakistan media had front-page coverage of the attack. Interestingly, the media coverage of the attack was heavy on rhetoric.
Starting from headlines in like 'RAGE' in The Telegraph to Pakistan media's coverage with headlines like 'Indian officials jump the gun, blame Pakistan' in The Express Tribune, both the Indian and the international media lent a heavy rhetoric on what was happening between the two neighbours. Relations between India-Pakistan have plummeted in the last few months, starting with Pakistan's alleged involvement in the Pathankot terror attack in January this year, followed by Pakistan Prime Minister's interference in the unrest going on in the Kashmir Valley following the encounter of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
After Sunday's attack in Uri, India's political leadership decided to immediately respond with diplomatic offensive and Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave orders to isolate Pakistan on a global stage. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is attending the UN General Assembly meet in New York, will also raise the issue at the meet.
Here's what Indian media said about the Uri attack
Most Indian newspapers and television channels, while condemning the attack, called for a "befitting" response from the Indian political leadership. Even though many articles carried quotes of Army veterans who favoured an eye-for-an-eye treatment for Pakistan, newspapers dialed down any vitriolic statements in their editorials against Pakistan or its leadership. In fact, majority of the leading newspapers called for reasoning over rage.
Remarks like "for one tooth, the complete jaw" from BJP leader Ram Madhav, was actively discouraged and maybe the more level-headed generals across the board discussed that while Madhav's approach may play well on TV, letting strategic restraint go, is better said than done. While they condoled the death of the 18 soldiers, op-eds in Indian newspapers maintained that even though India needs to give a reply that will resonate in Pakistan, it still needs to be calm and not act in haste.
Like Akshaya Mishra of Firstpost says in this piece, "Don’t take rhetoric so high that not living up to it becomes a source of embarrassment."
"That they offer no clarity on what the ‘strong and fitting’ response should be though the word ‘war’ is suggested in hints. They forget easily that war is not an easy option for the country. The collateral damage can be heavy on India, a country slowly building itself into an economic powerhouse."
Utpal Kumar, on the other hand, in an opinion piece in DailyO said that India need not wage a full-fledged war on Pakistan to contain the "rogue nation". He suggested, "India, for instance, can throw the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, which unduly favours Pakistan, into the dustbin. Without shelling a single mortar, India can make Pakistan crawl."
The timing of the attack also can't be ignored. The militants attacked the Army base on the eve of India’s planned intervention at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly meet where New Delhi is to highlight Pakistan’s terror atrocities not just across the border, but in Balochistan as well.
Like Sreemoy Talukdar of Firstpost argues in this piece, "Islamabad, or more correctly the Army apparatus in Rawalpindi, is gambling on the well-considered possibility that the Uri attack will goad India into a knee-jerk response that it may then exploit to its advantage to go with its narrative of "Indian oppression in Kashmir". Given the fact that the West would surely try to defuse the tension between the nuclear neighbours would mean that India would be at the receiving end of global pressure to "show restraint" and "act responsibly". Lectures to such effect were already being administered by United States commentators on Sunday evening."
Most of the opinion/editorial pieces in Indian media maintained that Pakistan-backed terrorists across the border are getting audacious by the day, the articles also noted that it will help India to revisit its overtures towards Pakistan "but it also begs the question of what kind of strategic change can be realistically achieved to expose and bring to justice Pakistan’s currently free-running military-jihad complex."
Here's how Pakistan media reacted
As leaders and sections of the media in India blamed Pakistan for Uri, Pakistani media also lashed out at the Indian authorities, claiming that the Uri attack was "staged" and that India was trying to shift the focus from the ongoing Kashmir unrest. The News International ran an editorial which said:
Assisted by its crafty media, the Indian political and security establishment is notorious for designing bizarre pseudo operations so that it could defame Pakistan in the eyes of the world, muster international support and to cover up its intelligence failures, but on most occasions over the years, even the internal investigative reports have mocked New Delhi’s claims in this context.
The editorial, headlined "Uri attack is an addition to RAW failures", says how the Uri terror attack was staged "to dilute the effects of Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the United Nations."
This article in The News International is getting a special mention here (over other Pakistani newspapers) because of its strange claims. The article goes on to say how India staged the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks as well.
Another leading Pakistani paper, The Dawn, even though reporting on the Uri attacks, stressed on the deteriorating situation in Kashmir. "Surely, though, the war of words, at least from the Indian side, will not abate in the days ahead. India’s automatic blaming of Pakistan for major violence in that country is very much a part of the problem," the report in The Dawn said.
Another report in The Dawn said that Home Minister Rajnath Singh "immediately" blamed Pakistan for the attack and then quickly shifted focus to the violent protests in Jammu and Kashmir. "Almost daily protests against the Indian rule and India’s ruthless use of force to stop the protests have drawn international attention, causing almost every major human rights organisation to demand access to the Valley."
The report also talked about how India is expected to raise the Balochistan issue at the United Nations General Assembly and said that Pakistan was likely to respond by claiming that it was India, in fact, which was "responsible for promoting militancy in Balochistan".
Similar words were used against India in a report in The Express Tribune, which called India's allegations against Pakistan a "knee-jerk reaction". Another article in Pakistan Observer titled "Also expose Indian interference at UNGA" said, "India misses no opportunity to malign Pakistan at international forums and for this purpose resorts to all sort of rhetoric and baseless allegations. It is time for Pakistan to veraciously expose the double face of India."
The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post and other leading international papers also reported the open scuffle between the two Asian neighbours on Monday. While The New York Times referred to Kashmir as "disputed region", The Guardian said that India "directly accused" Pakistan of being involved in the midnight raid in Uri. The Guardian reported that there was clamour in India for a less-diplomatic approach from the Narendra Modi government. Even though opinions did not find place in the international reports, it was obvious that the world was watching India and Pakistan war of words keenly, especially days before the UNGA meeting scheduled in New York next week.
The Guardian report said:
"Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir as their own and have fought three wars over the former princedom since partition in 1947. Sunday attack’s came during a week of diplomatic wrangling between the pair. Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, has promised he will use a speech to the UN general assembly on Wednesday to “emphatically highlight” alleged human rights abuses against protesters by Indian authorities. Last week, Indian diplomats at the UN human rights council raised for the first time Pakistan’s alleged mistreatment of its own separatists in Balochistan, a restive province in the country’s south-west."
The CNN reported that Uri attack has started "a new chapter in the India-Pakistan geopolitical saga." The report also brought focus to the ongoing unrest in Kashmir for the past two months.
The report in The Washington Post said that the Uri attack has effectively brought Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to square one since Sharif has been "preparing for days to make a forceful appearance at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, hoping to burnish his international credentials with a ringing denunciation of Indian aggression in the disputed border region of Kashmir."
The report goes on to add that the raid adds a "messy backdrop" for the Pakistan prime minister who was about to raise the issue of Kashmir on a global stage. "Diplomatic fallout, meanwhile, could include India cutting off all talks or refusing to attend a South Asian summit in Islamabad later this year," the report noted.