Doubting Toms – play politics but spare armed forces

Manish Tiwari | Chandigarh

Pakistan is good at waging a war of propaganda. Our armed forces have shown the highest level of professionalism and it will be better for some people to keep aside their politics and not fall in the hands of the enemy by doubting the capability of the IAF and officers like Abhinandan.

Doubting Toms exist in every polity and India with its multitude of political parties and groups is no exception. However, our politicians should draw the line when it comes to questioning the credibility of our armed forces and leave them out of the ambit of local politics.
Within days of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crossing the Line of Control (LoC) and bombing a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Pakistan, some Opposition leaders in India have started demanding proof of the Balakot air strike, just as they did after the surgical strike in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) in 2016.
While politics is bound to happen on any action that the government carries out in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls, questioning the IAF — despite Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor informing the nation that there was credible information and evidence to show that the air strikes were successful and the action produced the desired results — only amount to doubting the capability of the Armed forces. Moreover, such statements are bound to have a direct bearing on the morale of our jawans and the pilots.
After the Pulwama terror attack, the entire nation has been watching reports in the Indian and Pakistani media after Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to change the country’s counter terrorism narrative and send IAF fighters cross the LoC, for the first time after the 1971 Indo-Pak war.
Unlike Pakistan, which has all along lied about the presence of terror camps on its soil and also the role of the JeM and other outfits in most terror attacks in India, India’s claim on most of its actions has proved to be correct. In the past few days, on the other hand, we have
come across several lies of the Pakistan Army.
Prime Minister Imran Khan as well as the Army first claimed to have arrested two Indian pilots after a “dog fight” that ensued on the LoC last Wednesday, but by evening, they meekly confirmed that they had only one pilot in their custody.
They first claimed to have downed two MiGs of the IAF, but conveniently failed to even acknowledge that one of the downed combat aircrafts was their own PAF’s F-16. Their silence on the fate of PAF’s Wing Commander Shahzaz-U-Din was just deafening. Had it not been correct, Wing Commander Shahzaz would have by now surfaced before the Pakistani media and the Army would have called the Americans to count all the F-16s given to it for anti-terror operations.
On the other hand, the IAF’s daring Balakot air strike which, of course, hit its intended targets, questions are being raised by some politicians and a section of the media, including some credible media organisations, including the BBC. The leaders, however, must introspect whether they are not doing a disservice to our nation.
I find the politicians and media in Pakistan showing more maturity than ours. They must be knowing the fact. But none have so far questioned their own Prime Minister who misled the world about the presence of two Indian pilots on the Pakistani soil, completely blacking out news on what happened in Balakot, and also not saying a word on what happened to their F-16 and their pilot Shahzaz. It seems as part of Pakistan’s policy on India, news of any soldier who dies in any skirmish with the Indian Armed forces is never made public. That our neighbour has been known to disown hundreds of its jawans who were killed during the Kargil war is well known to us.
As Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi should be admired for taking such a bold step by allowing IAF pilots to cross the LoC and bomb the JeM terror camp. The rest depended on how our pilots carried out the strikes. So, by asking for proof, do we not doubt the capability of our pilots, rather than the Prime Minister?
The shift in India’s approach from being a “defensive” to “offensive-defensive” nation in dealing with Pakistan when it comes to handling terrorism and the issue of Kashmir, has surely helped our country in sending a strong signal to its obdurate western neighbour.
The message is clear — the failed state of Pakistan, which is battling a precarious financial situation and all kinds of internal conflicts, including home-grown terrorist groups which have outgrown their shoes and have gone out of control, will face Indian action if it tried to push more gun-toting boys across the border to foment trouble.
That Pakistan provides shelter and a pulpit to terrorists is an open global secret and our hostile neighbour is for the first time under immense International pressure due to our aggressive foreign policy. It now stands completely exposed after the open admission by a JeM top commander and also reports trickling in from inside Pakistan that the IAF air strike on the Balakot terror camp was indeed a success.
Let us also not gloss over the fact that Imran Khan did not release our brave pilot Abhinandan because he had fallen in love with India. He was forced to do it. He was under immense pressure that came from India, a country with strong leadership, strong armed forces and a strong economy. The message from India was clear that if Pakistan did not release the pilot within 24 hours, it should be prepared for a massive retaliation. This message, I am told, was conveyed to Pakistan through Saudi Arabia and America. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that if Abhinandan was not released, things would be terrible for Pakistan.
We are in a state of war with Pakistan which has also waged a war of propaganda. Our forces have shown the highest level of professionalism and it will be better for our leaders to keep aside politics and not fall in the hands of our enemy by doubting the integrity and capability of the Armed forces and officers like Abhi, the first pilot in the world to have shot down an F-16 fighter jet with his vintage MiG-21 Bison.


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