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Politicization of IAF Airstrikes- Who does it?

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The events of February 14 2019 and the historic anger felt by the common Indian on the road have already been captured so well that they do not need any repetition. Every Indian was seething in anger and looked up to the government to do something that would teach the perpetrators a lesson. Although many knew that a muscular response would neither stop cross-border terrorism, nor would that be the end of the matter, the mood of the nation was so clear that no body best articulated that anger than our PM Modi himself. And again, not once but on multiple occasions.

But, because of the previous surgical strikes in 2016 and non-stop studio discussions, the options before the government were limited. Under these circumstances, our PM gave a free hand to the professionals -that is the armed forces, to act as appropriate and what happened on 26th Feb will now be spoken about and be part of history for a long time to come. Already people are calling it a new paradigm in our fight against terror. For the first time in nearly half a decade, the Indian Air Force crossed into Pakistani territory and destroyed the JeM camp on which attack was least expected. Pakistan was expecting and ready for something on the LoC or Bahawalpur but not in Balakot in KPK province. In a retaliatory move, the PAF launched strikes on military targets and downed an Indian MIG-21 and captured a pilot. In all of this, two things stand out.

One, the near unanimous backing of India on both the strikes as well as the issue of repatriation of our pilot. India was not censured by any country and to the contrary, countries actively supported India. The pressure was on Pakistan to release our Wing commander when Pakistan tried to force us into negotiating a de-escalation but our government put it down firmly. This was possible only due to the proactive diplomacy of the PM and his government. The icing on the cake was when India whose present ruling dispensation is branded as anti-Muslim was invited as the guest of honour at the OIC, much to the chagrin of our delinquent neighbor which had always used the forum as a propaganda tool where India never had any representation.

The other thing that stands out is the deafening silence of the opposition group of more than 21 parties when it comes to the lauding of the political efforts and the political leadership of the day. They praised only the armed forces and that too only grudgingly. And by their very silence, they have already acknowledged that the only owner of the successful operation and repatriation is the Indian government and the ruling party.

While the opposition neither expected the swift military action nor the even faster repatriation of the captured Indian soldier and they were totally taken by surprise, they had to praise the Armed Forces. And even this was because the first information came from the Pakistani side. By not giving credit where it is due, they have actually already politicized the issue and they are blaming the ruling party of politicizing it; they came out with a statement the very next day after the IAF air strike asking the ruling party not to politicize it. If doubting the veracity of the strikes by the likes of the NCP’s Majid Memon, Sharad Pawar, Mamata Bannerjee etc. is not politicization, then what is? If the parties which were born out of anti-congressism as their main raison d’être, exhibit short term memory loss and pretend that the Congress neither used the 1971 victory nor gained out of it, should others also indulge them?

And then, when one is so vocal and unsparing when it comes to criticism, one is expected to be at least miserly in praise.

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