An Indian army soldier salutes the coffins of colleagues during a wreath laying ceremony for 17 Indian army soldiers killed in a gunbattle at the army headquarters in Srinagar on September 19, 2016. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / INDIAN ARMY" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Gunmen hurling grenades killed 17 soldiers in a raid on an army base in Indian Kashmir September 18, with India blaming Pakistan-based militants for the worst such attack in the disputed region for over a decade. / AFP PHOTO / INDIAN ARMY / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / INDIAN ARMY" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
An Indian army soldier salutes the coffins of colleagues during a wreath laying ceremony for 17 Indian army soldiers killed in a gunbattle at the army headquarters in Srinagar on September 19, 2016. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / INDIAN ARMY" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS Gunmen hurling grenades killed 17 soldiers in a raid on an army base in Indian Kashmir September 18, with India blaming Pakistan-based militants for the worst such attack in the disputed region for over a decade. / AFP PHOTO / INDIAN ARMY / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / INDIAN ARMY" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Pakistan has washed its hands of the deadly fidayeen attack on the army camp in Uri in the wee hours of Sunday. It left 17 soldiers dead and several more injured. The rogue country — it is not a nation — could not be expected to do anything else.

Sartaj Aziz, foreign affairs adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, seemed to blame India, saying the attack was an attempt to detract the world attention from the ‘humanitarian crisis’ in Kashmir. We could commend Aziz for the Nobel Prize for lying without batting an eyelid. But what Aziz says should be of little interest to us.

We are being bled systematically by the jihadi machine run by the Rawalpindi GHQ. We are the ones losing our men at regular intervals at the hands of these unholy jihadis who have profaned the fair name of Islam by killing innocents in the name of Allah. And the onus to come up with an effective response to not only avenge the deaths of the 18, who died on Sunday, but many more who have been  killed in several such attacks earlier, lies with us Indians, and not just the government of the day.

Unless the people are united and determined to blunt the challenge the terrorist neighbor poses to our peace and prosperity, no government will feel fortified enough to take a tough stand against the perpetrators of jihadi attacks. From Pathankot a few weeks ago to Uri, Pakistan has not budged an inch from its policy of bleeding India through a thousand cuts. Such atrocities help contain the rising unrest and anger among ordinary Pakistanis against the ruling establishment — read the army — which has enriched itself enormously while the people suffer from poverty, hunger and other indignities without enjoying any basic civic rights. Yet, mounting a credible response against the dispensers of evil across the border is not going to be easy.

Unlike Pakistan, which relies on a huge fifth column in India to torment us, we have to devise a response which is effective and also commensurate with the provocation of Uri, Pathankot, etc. A surgical strike within the Pak-Occupied Kashmir to decimate the terrorist training camps remains an option. However, it is not the only option. A suggestion is to penalise Pakistan by stopping the flow of waters under the unequal river waters treaty. Isolating Pakistan in multilateral bodies is unlikely to have much effect since it is beyond global shame.

Frankly, if our national polity could muster a greater degree of unity we should try and break free from the chains of a special status that have restrained India from treating Jammu and Kashmir on an equal footing with the rest of the Union. For nearly seventy years the Kashmir boil on the body politic has caused immense pain and costs without showing any sign of healing.

The Government needs to take its tongue in its teeth and lance this boil once for all. This will not be an attempt to renege on solemn agreements, since the same Constitution which granted Kashmiris a special status also committed them to complete allegiance to the Indian Union. Nor will it be an attempt at establishing equivalence with Pakistan which after illegally occupying a part of Kashmir parceled out some to China and in the other settled non-Kashmiris to make the locals third-rate citizens.

The world at large would understand if after 70 years India in sheer desperation were to try and stop the constant interference of Pakistan by removing artificial barriers between Kashmir and the rest of the country. Breach of the agreement by the secessionists/separatists is a valid reason in international law for India to take all measures aimed at defending its sovereignty and integrity. If Pakistan has merrily messed with India without caring a fig for international opinion, India cannot sit idly by trotting out the lame excuse that it is ‘not Pakistan and therefore cannot renege on the J and K accession agreement’ to justify its lack of will and courage.

Strong nations do not suffer daily ignominy — or a thousand cuts as Pakistan’s policy-makers would put it — and offer excuses for their non-action. Fear of escalation between two nuclear-armed States cannot be allowed to become the albatross around India’s neck. Someday Pakistan’s bluff has to be called. Narendra Modi was given an unprecedented mandate just so he could provide a strong and stable government. If he fails to come up with an effective response, the people will lose faith in his leadership — and, worse, our armed forces would feel demoralised.

Already the people feel enraged and angry. Using strong words and threatening strong action without an iota of evidence of action will prove counter-productive. The likes of Ram Madhav and others in the ruling party should exercise restraint in the use of their vocal chords. Let action do all the talking for the Modi Government. The timing and type of action is well left for the strategists to decide. But it should be such that the Rawalpindi GHQ and its surrogates like Hafiz Sayeed lose their sleep. They cannot go on perpetrating evil indefinitely. Can they?

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