Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat has come on record saying we shall give a fitting reply to Pakistan over the way Indian soldiers were treated after being killed on the Line of Control (LoC).
That is comforting but the flaw lies not in our stars but in ourselves that it is always future imperfect. If you are planning a reaction and going for broke then go for it without preamble.
When politicians say these things we accept them as the usual bromides. But when professional soldiers make equivalent statements they must be rooted in hard and measurable fact. There is no argument that the forces are fiercely angry and ready for, and let’s say it like it is, revenge.
But we have become ineffective with prefixes like shall, will, must, should, would, ought, need to, intend softening with the passage of each hour and not being quantifiable beyond the range of rhetoric.
It was reported that Pakistan protects and maintains 600 terror camps. If we know the number and where the base camps and strongholds are, a plan of action can be put in place but action has to be immediate and aggressive.
By now all the statements are in. Defence Minister Arun Jaitley has called the action barbaric and unacceptable and in need of an appropriate response, followed by a deafening silence, save for sending a pack of Pakistani school children packing to Lahore.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was generic when he offered his response: “No region can validate terrorism. No intent, goal, reason or rationale can validate terrorism.” Nothing new there.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal gave us a lukewarm waffle: "I strongly condemn the barbaric and inhuman mutilation of our soldiers. We must react strongly and firmly.”
The Congress predictably took even this solemn occasion as an excuse to mock Modi rather than offer support: "Pakistan has been attacking India with impunity. When is Modi planning to show off his '56 inch chest' to them and send them cowering?"
The Shiv Sena sent a salvo of rhyming words: “Stop Mann ki baat, start Gun ki baath.”
It just messes about with words. Cannot see Pakistan being particularly concerned if this is all there is.
It is now four days since the atrocity and the weekend looms. This situation has nothing to do with being either pro- or anti-Modi and is more a question of India’s dignity.
It is possible, therefore, that there is more and we dredge for some merit in Jaitley's statement that a "well thought-out" response will be made by freezing Pakistan out including breaking off diplomatic relations and reworking a foreign policy that totally refuses to acknowledge that nation’s existence.
If we could do that in tandem with military operations it would put Islamabad severely on the backfoot.
To that end, it is a strong step to dispatch a contingent of school children across the border. Normally, we would have let it slide. After all what are 15 year olds going to do to harm us. But it is a powerful message to the other side that all their citizens are suspect and unwelcome. Even the children. That sort of snub is read there as an "uh oh, we have crossed the line this time."
A few days after they begin hurting financially as Indian sanctions kick in, they will ask for a peace conference and a meeting and be all pally wally. It is a pattern.
We will win this war not by firing bullets but by holding back the bottom line.
Will we do it?
Updated Date: May 04, 2017 22:15 PM